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Green Christmas

By MICHELLE GROENKE   |   Dec. 9, 2012 at 6:30 AM   |   Comments

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CHICAGO, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. retailers are raking in the cash this holiday season with the help of the collective shopping fervor stimulated by the marketing behind "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" deals.

Walmart.com and other e-commerce sites are looking to extend the bargain fever with special online sales for "Green Monday" on Dec. 10.

The market research firm comScore says $21.4 billion was spent online during the first 32 days of the November–December 2012 holiday season, up 14 percent from last year. Cyber Monday was the heaviest online spending day on record at $1.46 billion.

"While Cyber Monday was a high point for holiday e-commerce spending and Cyber Week saw several strong spending days, there was a clear softening in the growth rate during the back half of the week," comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni said in a release. Fulgoni, however, said growth rates are expected to pick up in the next couple of weeks as the urgency to finish holiday shopping increases.

Spending growth is being driven both by an increase in the number of buyers, up 9 percent to 128.7 million, and the average amount spent by buyers -- up 5 percent to $165.90.

"That we are seeing growth come from an increase in both the number of buyers and the average spending per buyers suggests broad-based strength in the e-commerce sector," added Fulgoni. "It reflects not only the health of the e-commerce channel as more people buy online, but also the health of the consumer who has been willing to spend more online this year than last.

A poll by Consumer Reports suggests as many 36 percent of people who plan to buy Christmas gifts haven't started shopping yet.

"Our poll revealed that Americans have plenty of shopping left to do and are generally enjoying the holiday season so far," Consumer Reports senior editor Tod Marks said in a release. "However, they are also watching their dollars very closely and just as in years past, they're looking for bargains."

Walmart is betting that many of those bargain hunters will be on their computers Monday morning looking for online deals. The second Monday in December has been dubbed "Green Monday" by retailers who have seen a spike in online shoppers who want to lock in deals and avoid the express shipping rates that will start to kick-in as it gets closer to Christmas.

Last year, it was Walmart.com's highest traffic day in December.

"We know our customers are relentlessly looking online for the best savings this holiday and our goal is to give them low prices on the gifts they want most," Joel Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Walmart.com, said Thursday in a release. "Given this highly competitive season, we are living up to our commitment with even more big savings online before Christmas that keeps more money in their pockets this year."

While online shopping continues to grow, Consumer Reports says shoppers haven't abandoned malls and mass merchandisers like Walmart and Target. More people (55 percent) said they patronized mass merchandisers than shopped online for gifts (39 percent). The survey said 32 percent of shoppers visited department stores, such as Macy's, and 28 percent said they shopped retail chain stores like Toys "R" Us, Best Buy, or Gap.

More than a quarter of shoppers (28 percent) said they found their best deals online and 26 percent said they found the best deals at mass merchandisers. Fourteen percent of shoppers said department stores have the best deals.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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