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Eight Days a Week for Online Shopping

Theodore Iacobuzio |

The great essayist Joseph Epstein, casting a backward glance, once wrote that in his Chicago home growing up in the forties and fifties, every day was what you might want to call Father’s Day. So enough about Cyber Monday, ok?

The strength of the numbers coming back from “the traditional start of the e-commerce holiday season”— 2005! some tradition—are so good they are in danger of obscuring the real story.

You can’t really argue with the numbers like the ones IBM Corp. clocked in the infographic below: a 30 percent overall rise, with mobile devices accounting for 13 percent of the total.

As MasterCard’s own SpendingPulse reports, however, the real story is the continuing strength of e-commerce, m-commerce and mobile payments: if 2011 is any indication, online and mobile sales will continue strong through the holiday selling season—though always with the caveat that a stroll off the Fiscal Cliff, Wile E. Coyote-style, could effectively bring it all to an end.

At the same time, it’s important to note that online sales remain a slice of a very large pie, at least as clocked by the U.S. Census Bureau. (Other estimates are usually larger, probably because the Census Bureau includes cash in the denominator.) Five percent of total U.S. retail sales is impressive in its own right, but the single digit ought not to obscure the double-digit quarter-over-quarter growth the segment clocks.

So what’s the moral? Is online just an electronic Sears Roebuck catalogue ? Doesn’t feel that way, does it? Or is the physical store dying? Can’t say that, either.

What rather seems to be emerging is a hybrid model, in which electronic devices enhance and effectively transform the shopping experience, and in the new reality, experiences are what matter. Will mobile overtake wireline? Possibly. Will some retailers fail to meet the new model’s demands? Absolutely. Is every day Cyber Monday? Looks like it.

Source: IBM Corp.

Topics: Economic Outlook, Payments Strategy, Retail Trends

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