Online holiday spending was up 15% over last year, according to comScore data released on Dec. 28. From Nov. 1 through Dec. 26, U.S. consumers spent $35.3 billion online; they spent $30.6 billion during the same period in 2010.
ComScore also noted that there was a "dramatic" increase in purchases of digital content and subscriptions (music, videos, e-books, magazines and apps) on Christmas day, which it tied to gift certificates given as presents to owners of new smartphones and tablets.
Concurrently, some online retailers told the New York Times that late evening online sales have spiked, leading them to believe that many purchases are made when consumers have had a drink or two.
From this we can surmise two things: Consumers are feeling more confident about the economy and are consequently spending more, and they are even more confident about the economy once they've had a bit of the holiday cheer.
If the U.S. job market continues to improve, online sales may see growth in the new year—and smart brands will deploy teams to engage with this growing audience in the evening, during the real action. Communicating on social networks in the evening could be the next big thing in building brand loyalty.