in the U.S. spent $42.3 billion during the holiday shopping season in 2012, representing a 14 percent increase compared to one year prior, according to data compiled by comScore
. Several individual shopping days saw massive growth, including Free Shipping Day (December 17), which jumped 76 percent compared to 2011, Christmas Day (up 36 percent), and Thanksgiving Day (up 32 percent).
Despite strong growth, online spending actually fell short of initial expectations. comScore said it was due to a significant drop in consumer confidence in December on so-called "fiscal cliff" concerns.
"The 2012 online holiday season was once again a very strong season with growth rates in the mid-teens as we reached record-setting spending levels," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "This year’s growth rate is essentially on a par with last year’s. But despite many positives for the online sector, this year’s season did not quite perform up to our initial expectation for growth rates in excess of 16 percent as we fell a billion dollars short of our expected total of $43.4 billion. While November started out at a very healthy 16-percent growth rate through the promotional period of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers almost immediately pulled back on spending, apparently due to concerns over the looming fiscal cliff and what that might mean for their household budgets in 2013. With Congress deadlocked throughout December, growth rates softened even further and never quite made up enough ground to reach our original expectation."
Nevertheless, consumers spent big bucks online during the holiday shopping season. The heaviest online shopping day was Cyber Monday
(November 26), in which online shoppers spent $1.465 billion, followed by December 4 (just another day), which added another $1.362 billion in online spending.