For the three days from Dec. 18 through Dec. 20, non-travel retail spending online climbed to $1.55 billion, marking a 35% increase from last year. For the first 50 days of the holiday season (Nov. 1-Dec. 20), online retail spending soared 26% to $21.68 billion.
Much of the gains came from increases in high-end items, like jewelry and watches (up 66% from last year), video game consoles (54%) and consumer electronics (33%). Other fast-growing categories included toys (up 36% from last year), sports and fitness (34%), and apparel and accessories (31%).
Rival research company Nielsen//NetRatings also reported a surge in activity at online jewelry stores. This year, visits to jewelry sites rose 221% from the beginning of the holiday season through the week ending Dec. 17.
Overall, Web users made 551.6 million visits to the 120-plus sites in Nielsen//NetRatings' holiday shopping index from the first week in November through Dec. 17--an increase of 20% from last year's 459.5 million visits. The three busiest days were Dec. 12 (30.4 million), Dec. 14 (30.3 million) and Dec. 11 (30.3 million).