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Retail e-commerce sales see big gain in Q4, full year


RESTON, Va. — U.S. retail e-commerce sales experienced a strong finish in 2011, putting sales for the full year well ahead of 2010, according to ComScore.

ComScore reported that U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the fourth quarter totaled $49.7 billion, marking a 14% gain over the year-ago period, making it the ninth consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth rates. For the entire 2011 year, U.S. retail e-commerce spending reached $161.5 billion, marking a 13% increase from 2010. Among many contributing factors, including such major shopping days as Cyber Monday and Black Friday, ComScore said smartphones and tablets played a growing role in online shopping, with consumers increasingly using smartphones to check prices and product features while physically in a retail store.

"The fourth quarter of 2011 capped off what was yet another strong year for online retail, one in which every quarter achieved double-digit increases versus the prior year," ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni said. "In the face of continuing uncertainty regarding the U.S. economy, consumers increasingly went online for their shopping needs. Price and convenience continue to be the critical value drivers for e-commerce, and unless those conditions change we can expect to see more channel-shifting to online in 2012 and perhaps even an acceleration in the current growth trend."

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