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Holiday Online Spending Tops $17 Billion

By: David Utter

2006 non-travel holiday spending on the Internet increased by 24 percent through November 1 to December 12 over the same 42-day period in 2005.

Holiday Online Spending Tops $17 BillionMonday, December 11, proved a banner day for online retailers. Metrics firm comScore said consumers parted with $661 million at US sites for the day.

Through the Monday-Friday work week dated December 4-8, each day exceeded $610 million in spending per day.

For the first 42 days, shoppers spent $17.56 billion online with retailers; this excludes auction and large corporate purchases.

That easily surpassed 2005's spending total of $14.13 billion for the equivalent period. According to comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni, improved delivery practices by online retailers could lead to a big finish:

"With growth rates for the beginning of this week slightly below expectations, its possible that we could see a greater share of spending shift to later in the week -- and even into next week -- since many online retailers are promising pre-Christmas deliveries for even later purchases this season. Because shipping was so reliable last year, its conceivable that more consumers are opting to procrastinate this year."

The 24-percent increase seen in holiday sales mirrors that of online retail through January to October 2006. Consumers spent $77.5 billion through the first ten months of the year, as opposed to 2005 spending of $62.6 billion.

The buying has taken place although some retailers have throttled back on the free shipping benefit many provided in 2005. bucked the trend by offering people a 3-month trial of its Amazon Prime service, which offers free two-day shipping for the period. That could lead to some of those trying out the service to pay the regular $79 annual fee and keep it for another 12 months.


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