A report by Nielsen, Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Harris Interactive found that online consumers spent $16.7 billion from November through Dec. 12--a 28 percent increase from the $13 billion spent during corresponding days in 2003. Nielsen has reported spending only through Dec. 12.
comScore's forecast for the eight-week holiday period is just over $15 billion--a relatively conservative estimate. "Our predictions are remarkably similar to those released by the Department of Commerce," said a comScore spokesman. He added that comScore spending numbers "are based on transactions made, not a survey given to consumers."
Reasons for the rise abound: Consumers' ever-increasing comfort with the Internet; more retailers integrating their on- and off-line capabilities; online sales promotions and reminders to consumers about shipping and sale deadlines; also, because of to leap year, Thanksgiving fell two days earlier this year than last, which extended the peak spending period.