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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : January 06, 2011

2010 Holiday Wrap: Spending soared, spam dropped

Two interesting things happened during the 2010 holiday shopping season. First, consumers shelled out cash for gifts at a very high rate, indicating that they were confident in the future of the economy. Second, spam rates dropped, but that is likely not an indicator that spammers and fraudsters are turning their trade around.

by Kristina Knight

First, spam. According to experts with Symantec's MessageLabs, the holiday season dropped to levels below the 2008 low. In 2008 after the McColo ISP was shut down spam levels plummeted. The drop this time was the result of lessened output from the Rustock botnet.

"Since 25th December, Rustock seems to have all but shut down, with the amount of spam coming from it consistently accounting for below 0.5% of all spam worldwide. Further contributing to the massive reduction in spam levels is the apparent mollification of two other major botnets, Lethic and Xarvester. MessageLabs Intelligence has seen virtually nothing from Lethic since the 28th December, and Xarvester since the 31st December," writes Mathew Nisbet, Malware Data Analyst with Symantic.

Researchers warn that this is likely not a permanent change; they expect the botnets to gear back up any day.

Second, spending. Just after the Christmas holiday, comScore reported that the holiday spend had reached $30.8 billion for the season. The metrics firm has updated that report and now totals 2010 holiday spending at $32.6 billion.

"We saw spending increase at a rate of 12 percent for the season, outpacing our forecasted 11-percent growth, and set a new holiday season record as total e-commerce spending reached $32.6 billion," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "This year, retailers targeted many of their promotions even earlier than usual and reaped the benefits. The season will be remembered for an exceptional Cyber Monday, which was the first billion-dollar spending day in history, and the first time we've witnessed Cyber Monday rank as the heaviest online spending day of the year. And of course, we cannot forget the impact of free shipping, which was used in more than half of all e-commerce transactions this season, up significantly from last year."

The 2010 holidays saw eight days reach spending highs over $900 million, with Cyber Monday (November 29, 2010) seeing consumers spend $1.028 billion. That is an all time high spending level for a single day.

Tags: comScore, ecommerce, email marketing, MessageLabs, online shopping, SPAM, Symantec

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