While it’s still too early to know the final outcome of the Christmas shopping season (officially it lasts until Dec. 31), there’s one place where it’s already clear that it’s been a record black season: the Web.
Consumers pulled out all the stops online to spend $36.4 billion by Thursday, the day before Christmas Eve, according to SpendingPulse, a MasterCard Advisors report. That’s a 15.4% increase over last year. Six out of the seven weeks since Oct. 31 marked double-digit rises in online spending, with apparel accounting for 18.8% of overall sales online. In 2009, apparel accounted for 16.9% of spending.
Figures may rise even more with the addition of bricks-and-mortar retail sales; since Christmas fell on a Saturday, many consumers had the day off on Friday, Christmas Eve, to do their last-minute shopping. And there were plenty of procrastinators out getting their lists ticked off at the last minute—with, true to stereotype, many of them men, according to mall staff. In fact, retailers often call Christmas Eve “Father’s Day,” from all the fellows who head out at the last possible minute in search of gifts. A survey from the National Retail Federation showed that as of Dec. 9, 21.4% of men hadn’t even started their shopping.