Online sales for the holiday period up to Dec. 23 fell 3 percent from the same period last year, marking the first decline in online spending since comScore started tracking online sales in 2001.
Online spending reached $25.5 billion between Nov. 1 and Dec. 23, the company said, noting this was below its expectations for flat sales on the same period a year ago.
Apple and Amazon.com were among the top traffic gainers in an overall bleak period, comScore said.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) sites attracted 35 million visitors between Dec. 1 and Dec. 24, up 19 percent from a year ago, while Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) sites drew 76.2 million visitors over the same period, 7 percent more than a year ago. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) also saw its Web site traffic rise by 4 percent to a total of 51.5 million visitors.
Online auction site eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) was the most visited retail site with 85.4 million visitors but its traffic declined 4 percent.
Electronics retailer Circuit City, which filed for bankruptcy, saw traffic fall off by 21 percent to 15.5 visitors.
A combination of five fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas and the recession made the season particularly tough for retailers, Gian Fulgoni, comScore’s chairman, said in a statement Tuesday.
Earlier this week, ForeSee Results found Amazon and online DVD rental service Netflix scored high marks in its annual survey of customer satisfaction during the holiday season.
ForeSee also said WalMart.com performed well — seeing a 5 percent increase in customer satisfaction from last year — while Circuit City’s site declined 5.5 percent.
[cob:Special_Report]Amazon this week also claimed its best holiday sales season to date. However, the e-commerce giant has not released specific figures beyond saying that it shipped more than 5.6 million units on Dec. 15, its peak day of activity.