Study: Online Shoppers Spent $8.5B in November

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Online consumers spent $8.5 billion in November holiday shopping, up 55 percent from the year-ago period, according to a study released yesterday.

Apparel was the most popular category online, accounting for $1.6 billion in purchases, up 33 percent from November 2002, according to Goldman Sachs & Co., Harris Interactive and Nielsen//NetRatings.

Travel was not included in the weekly eSpending Report.

Toys and video games, both hardware and software, accounted for $875 million in November, up 32 percent from last year. Books followed at $761 million, up 61 percent. Videos and DVDs accounted for $758 million, up 133 percent from November 2002.

At $402 million, music rose 57 percent year-over-year.

The Goldman Sachs-Harris-Nielsen//NetRatings report polls 800 to 1,700 online shoppers randomly from Harris' online panel of survey respondents. The November summary information was pulled from more than 4,700 responses.

The report showed that consumers this year began online holiday shopping earlier. Fifty-one percent of the respondents said they started online holiday shopping in November, up from 43 percent last year.

Meanwhile, search engines and shopping portals are playing a critical role in holiday shopping. The report said 37 percent of online shoppers used Google to search for online retailers in the Nov. 22-28 week. EBay was next with 27 percent, and Yahoo Search had 25 percent.

Many consumers, however, knew where to go. Fifty-one percent went directly to the retail site by typing the Web address in the browser. And 21 percent said they used bookmarks to visit retail sites.

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