The Biggest Week for Online Shopping Isn't Cyber Week

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Cyber Monday remains the biggest online shopping day of the holiday season, but Cyber Week itself takes a backseat to last-minute holiday shoppers.

That’s the conclusion we can draw from looking at the Chase (Stock Quote: JPM) Paymentech Cyber Holiday Pulse Index, which tracks online holiday spending on a daily basis. The Paymentech system is used to process transactions on many of the biggest online retailers, and Chase has taken transaction data from 50 of its biggest clients to provide a snapshot of holiday shopping trends.

The biggest online shopping day of the season was actually the Tuesday after Cyber Monday. But as a Chase spokesperson explains, many purchases aren’t processed until the following day, which strongly suggests that many of the purchases attributed to Tuesday actually took place on Monday. That fits with the data we saw from ComScore, which declared Cyber Monday 2011 as the biggest online shopping day ever, with sales reaching $1.25 billion for the day.

But online sales saw a significant drop-off for the rest of the week, despite the fact that retailers like Wal-Mart (Stock Quote: WMT) continued to offer killer deals for the entirety of what many now call “Cyber Week.” In fact, the real “Cyber Week” actually came last week, when total sales from Monday to Friday slightly exceeded the sales figures from Cyber Week itself. We imagine this can be attributed to the rush of last-minute online shoppers placing their orders before the deadlines for standard shipping, many of which fell during that week. Indeed, we can see another big drop-off on Saturday, Dec. 17, the day after Free Shipping Day.

Finally, the data gives some insight into holiday shopping trends in general. Compared to 2010, total sales volume and transaction numbers are up for the season, in keeping with most expert predictions. But the average ticket – that is, the average money spent per transaction – is actually lower than it was in 2010. This could mean people are shopping around more and getting their purchases at multiple online retailers, or this year’s holiday shopper is simply less inclined to splurge on big-ticket items.

Matt Brownell is a staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach him by email at matthew.brownell@thestreet.com, or follow him on Twitter @Brownellorama.

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