Retailers are beginning to let out a sigh of relief, and many third party reports are supporting evident growth in consumer shopping over the same period since 2009. A thread at Webmaster World Forums, U.S. November Retail Sales Surpass Forecasts, provides a link to a brief report from Bloomberg.com showing that retail sales overall rose .8 percent in October after a 1.7 percent climb in October, year-over-year. As good as that sounds, online retailers are even happier.
A recent comScore Webinar which I attended, State of the U.S. Online Retail Economy in Q3 2010, previewed this likely jump, when it reported that through Q3 2010, total eCommerce sales were up 8%, with travel up 5% and non-travel up 9%. comScore also described the growth of online sales as a percent of overall retail sales (excluding some sales for "apples to apples") - in Q1 2004 online made up 4.3%, and by Q3 2010 that share is just over 7%.
Most of the online sales occur during the "cold months" of Q4 and Q1, comScore also noted, which to me makes sense since I know I'd prefer to buy online versus heading out into the cold. With overall growth at around 1%, the online space benefits since we are headed into the prime ecommerce months.
At the forum thread, posters tend to agree with the reports. One participant states that although his "traffic has dropped, his sales are holding steady." This is an interesting statistic and makes me wonder if the newer algorithm updates are doing a better job of delivering qualified traffic as a result of listing the right page based on the searcher's sentiment. I am curious if others have seen this type of analytics, or if this is an anomaly.
Most of our large retail clients increased both traffic and sales as a result of organic search listings in November, based on early analysis and not yet including full purchase cycle attribution numbers. Many marketers have to ask themselves (and hopefully answer honestly): is the growth a result of increased online shopping, or greater visibility for high conversion terms? The likely answer is a bit of both, especially for large brands that have increased offline advertising and social media participation.
How was November for retailers reading this? Please feel free to comment below or at Webmaster World Forums.