Web Holiday Jewelry, Watch Sales Fall

Online holiday jewelry and watch sales for 2007 fell from the record breaking results of the 2006 season.

Reston, Va.-based comScore, Inc., said that sales in “jewelry & watch” category, fell by single digits. Andrew Lipsman, an analyst with comScore, says the company isn’t releasing the exact percentage of year-over-year decline because of the “high variability in the category.”

This “high variability” wasn’t an issue for comScore during the 2006 holiday season when it reported that the jewelry and watch category recorded a 66 percent year-over-year sales increase for the period—the largest gain among all categories recorded by the company, which measures digital data, for the 2006 holiday season. ComScore does not disclose sales figures for specific Web sites or categories.

Lipsman said in a story a week earlier that the outstanding result of 2006 may have been one reason for the drop in category growth this year. The second involves a general reduction in luxury goods purchases for the holidays

“The declines are likely a function of two things,” he said. “First, jewelry & watches saw an unusually strong 2006 holiday season, meaning that any year-over-year growth this year is being calculated off a high base; Second, in an uncertain economy, consumers are likely to pull back on the purchase of luxury items, and jewelry & watches certainly falls under that domain.”

The company said in a statement Monday that the rising costs in precious metals, particularly gold and platinum, also may have dampened consumer demand.

E-commerce spending for the 2007 holiday season (Nov. 1 – Dec. 31) totaled $29.2 billion, a 19 percent gain year-over-year. The figure is a drop from the previous year’s growth rate of 26 percent. The company projected that sales for the season would have grown by 20 percent.

Monday, Dec. 10 was the heaviest online spending day of the season with $881 million. The week ending Dec. 16 was the heaviest week of the season with $4.7 billion in spending.

“Ultimately, the softness in the growth of online retail sales during the first ten days of November proved difficult to overcome and prevented the season’s growth rate from reaching our forecast of 20 percent,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “However, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas—another measure of the strength of the holiday season—experienced a healthier 21 percent growth rate.”

While jewelry and watches were down, video games, consoles & accessories was the fastest growing online retail category, jumping 129 percent versus the 2006 holiday season, with popular consoles like Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation and games like Halo 3 driving strong sales in the category.

Furniture, appliances & equipment (up 67 percent), event tickets (up 24 percent), and consumer electronics (up 23 percent) also experienced above average growth. After seeing substantial softness early in the season, online apparel sales picked up considerably in the latter part of the season, finishing up 18 percent.

ComScore figures excludes travel, auctions, and large corporate purchases.

Top 10 Online Spending Days of 2007 Holiday Season
Day                       Dollars Spent ($ millions)

Dec. 10 (“Green Monday”)   $881
Dec. 11              $819
Dec. 6                $803
Dec. 5                $798
Dec. 4                $776
Dec. 12              $754
Dec. 3                $753
Dec. 7                $734
Nov. 26 (“Cyber Monday”) $733
Nov. 29              $733

Fastest Growing Retail E-Commerce Categories by Dollar Sales for 2007 Holiday Season
Retail Category,     Percent Change in Category Sales ($)

Video Games, Consoles & Accessories  129%
Furniture, Appliances & Equipment   67%
Event Tickets                                    24%
Consumer Electronics                        23%
Apparel & Accessories                     18%
Sport & Fitness                                 16%
Toys                                                  16%
Computer Hardware                          15%
Music, Movies & Videos                    13%
Books & Magazines                           13%