Final Word On The 2008 Holiday Shopping Online Sales

I had a chance to interview Jason Skinrood (Plastic Rewards) on his thoughts of the 2008 shopping season.  Jason has some pretty amazing insight because its his business to keep an eye on it.  He is heavily involved in the credit card industry, an avid credit card industry blogger and has a passion for helping people find the credit card that is right for them.

All of the Dream Systems Media sites did really well this holiday season, but I feel we have a good grasp of what needs to be done to keep sales flowing, and what to do to take advantage of a down economy.  I just wanted to get some general insight, and over all statistics across the board when it comes to Internet sales.  I appreciate Jason taking the time to answer these questions – (we went back and forth on chat so I just cleaned it up and will post it all together here)

How do you feel the 2008 shopping season went?

Let’s face it…online sales have been extremely popular ever since Al Gore invented the Internet (chuckle chuckle). But, not this year. This is the first time in seven years that online sales have been down…a sure sign that consumers around the country are in serious distress.

Why do you feel the consumers are in serious distress?

First of all – online spending during the first 49 days of the holiday shopping season fell 1%. Online shopping sales during this period was as $24.03 billion instead of $24.15 billion. ComScore, a sales-tracking firm, gives us the updated numbers.

Andrew Lipsman, an analyst with ComScore, said that this is the first time ComScore has ever recorded a decrease in online sales since it started tracking the sales back in 2001. ‘Industry watchers’ name several reasons for the decrease in online sales. These include: increasing job losses, the ongoing recession, decreasing personal wealth, and more.

The holiday shopping season accounts for much of stores’ annual profit. The holiday shopping season accounts for as much as 50 percent of some profits and sales. Some retailers could be in serious trouble because of the 2008 holiday shopping season.

What do all these numbers mean?

The National Retail Federation predicts that holiday sales will grow by only 2.2% this year. If that holds true, it will be the weakest gain in holiday spending in six years. However, other experts are predicting a total decline in holiday shopping sales.

Karen MacDonald, a spokeswoman for Taubman Centers, said, “Overall, it appears that [this past] Saturday experienced strong traffic while sales varied from up to flat to down.” She went on to say that holiday gift card purchases were “consistently down” throughout the season.

Any final thoughts on the 2008 Shopping season?

The 2008 holiday shopping season certainly wasn’t a very successful one. We should have more detailed statistics in the coming months. But for the most part, it appears as though consumers have given up doing some shopping, at least for now.

My hope is that things were slow because its an election year, the economy is bad, but generally things slow down during an election year anyway.  Oh yea, and we got two wars going on, and talks of many more.  Lets hope President-Elect Obama can fix what is broken in this country, and help give us a better 2009 Holiday shopping season.

Once again, thanks to Jason for taking the time to do this interview with me.  What are your thoughts?  How was your overall 2008 shopping season?

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