As reported in this Ad Age article, consumer spending online is slowing this year-end, reflecting the overall economic downturn.

Perhaps there are warning signs here for online fundraising.

Forrester Research says the rate of growth in online sales for November and December over the previous year’s Christmas season will be 12%, compared to 20% a year earlier. But still, we’ might take a "glass half full" perspective on this, as growth is, after all, growth! And "bricks & mortar" retail spending is projected to grow only 2%. Indeed, 24% of the total holiday spend this year will be online, compared to 22% in 2007.

On the other hand, 45% of consumers are saying that they will spend less online this year than 2007, compared to 20% who said that last year. This would appear to be supported by Hitwise, who reports that there have now been nine consecutive weeks of declining online traffic to sales-oriented websites; whereas one might think that cash-conserving shoppers might be looking more than ever for online bargains.

But again, taking a positive perspective, one might infer that 55% of consumers will spend the same (or even more) online this year! So how’s that for an Agitator waffle?!

Might this mean that nonprofits will see online giving hold more firm than direct mail as the year closes out? We’ll ask that question later this week in our next Vital Signs survey.

Tom

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