Holiday Spending Strong As It Moves Into The Home Stretch

The latest spending data on this year's holiday shopping season finds great news for online retailers.

Nielsen//NetRatings said Tuesday afternoon that online shoppers spent $2.95 billion in the second week of December, up 48 percent from the amount spent online in 2002. Nielsen//NetRatings estimates that $13 billion has been spent online this year, up 46 percent from the same point in 2002. Those numbers don't include travel sites.

The hot product categories are those you might expect, including video/DVD, consumer electronics, toys, video games, and books. Spending in all those categories is up by double digits compared to the same period last year.

Almost $2.5 billion has been spent buying apparel online this season, up 35 percent compared to 2002. That's higher than the $1.6 billion spent so far on toys and video games, which was up 27 percent. About $1.4 billion has been spent so far on consumer electronics, up 12 percent. And books sold $1 billion online, up 33 percent from 2002.

"This season we are seeing a continuing trend of consumers deciding that shopping online is the way to go," said Lori Iventosch-James, director of ecommerce research at Harris Interactive, in a prepared statement. "Smart Internet retailers have minimized the barriers to online shopping, increasing their share of the shopper's total holiday budget and making it the preferred channel for many shoppers. With extended shipping deadlines, we expect this trend to continue as people want to avoid the late shopping crowds."

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