People spent $677 million online last weekend (Dec. 20 and 21), a big increase from 2007’s weekend before Christmas, according to new numbers released by web metrics company comScore. But that isn’t enough to bring the 2008 holiday season on-par with last year’s web spending.

The big difference between this year and last may not be what you think. Yes, the economy surely slowed spending, but there’s a more mundane detail at work, too: This year, there are fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving (when the Christmas shopping season traditionally starts) and Christmas. If you add up online spending between Nov. 1 and Dec. 21, last year is ahead of this one, $24.96 billion to $24.71 billion.

In the past, there has been a big drop in online shopping during the weekend before Christmas — after all, that’s cutting it close if you want gifts delivered on time. Not this year. Looks like the crummy weather may have kept more shoppers at home. Or, they may be more willing to count on last-minute deliveries. Or (like me) the short shopping season may have come as a bit of surprise, and Christmas just snuck up.

[photo: Flickr/Jeff Clow]

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