CHICAGO: Online retail spending by US consumers fell by 4% in November to $8.2 billion (€6.4bn; £5.3bn) according to internet measurement firm comScore, the first such decline since it started tracking web expenditure in 2001.

The company reports that online spending rose year-on-year by 9% from January to October, but predicts that the holiday season is unlikely to come close to repeating the 19% growth posted in 2007.

Opines comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni: "Assuming the stock market doesn't deteriorate materially during the season and that there is no apocalyptic news of major financial institutions, manufacturers or retailers failing, we should see online spending growth inch back toward positive as we get deeper into the season.

"However, if there is any more significant bad news just over the horizon, all bets are off."

By contrast, Bruce Fair, managing director of retail pricing comparison site Kelkoo, was more optimistic about the European outlook.

Quoth he: "We dispute the notion that online shopping is in a downturn, in the UK and Europe at least, as there is much evidence that shows it is replacing the high street as a primary shopping location."

Data sourced from BBC Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff