Online Jewelry, Watch Sales Down 4% in December

Online holiday spending for jewelry and watches for the first 12 days of December is down 4 percent year-over year, according to digital tracking company comScore. The figure for Dec. 1 – Dec. 12 marks a improvement from the 22 percent decline reported for the first five days of December.

Overall, for the November – December 2008 holiday season through Dec. 12, $19.44 billion has been spent online, essentially the same level compared to the corresponding days last year, according to the Reston, Va.-based firm.

For the 12 days beginning with Cyber Monday (Dec. 1), believed to be the kick-off to the heaviest part of the online shopping season, sales totaled $8.26 billion, up 3 percent versus a year ago. However, the most recent work week (Dec. 8-12) saw e-commerce sales decline by a marginal 1 percent, although Dec. 9 emerged as the highest online spending day on record, with sales of $887 million.

“After a very strong first week of December, e-commerce sales growth slowed somewhat during the most recent week,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “However, the week still managed to see a few particularly strong spending days…. With Christmas now fast approaching, look for online retailers to continue to offer enticing last-minute deals, including discounts on expedited shipping, to spur a final wave of spending. In fact, some retailers are even willing to offer free shipping as late as Dec. 18 this year with a guarantee that the shipment will arrive by Christmas Eve. It will be interesting to see the impact that this offer has in terms of pulling additional spending from retail stores to the online channel.”

The fastest growing product categories during the first 12 days of December were Apparel & Accessories (up 21 percent), Books & Magazines (up 18 percent), and Flowers, Greetings & Gift (up 18 percent), according to comScore. Apparel & Accessories, the second largest online retail category by dollar sales, has seen sales growth as a result of aggressive discounting and unseasonably cold weather across many parts of the country. Following a strong week of Cyber Monday that was driven by large discounts on products such as flat screen TVs, sales of consumer electronics have slowed in the most recent week. The softest retail categories include Music, Movies & Videos (down 25 percent) and Office Supplies (down 33 percent).