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Report: Online Holiday Sales Starting Early

Holiday buyers rushed to the Internet for the second month in a row in October, says a new study, and holiday gift staples, such as clothing, toys and sporting goods, moved up sharply in the Top 20 Retail Sites for the month.

The study by PC Data Online is based on a proprietary sample that tracks visitors and buyers on various e-commerce sites.

"Our October numbers confirm the jump in both shopping and buying in September was no fluke, " said Cameron Meierhoefer, Internet research analyst for PC Data Online.

"Whether it's a response to the increase of dot com advertising on television and radio or a growing comfort with shopping online, Internet users in October spent more money and bought more diverse items on the Internet in greater numbers."

Sites at the top of the Top 20 list remained relatively stable with Amazon.com (No. 1), Buy.com, Ticketmaster.com, barnesandnoble.com and mothercare.com pushing Drugstore.com down the list, closer in standing to its competitor PlanetRx.com.

"The big gains this month can be attributed to early holiday shoppers," Meierhoefer said. "Jumps by Smartkids.com (to No. 7 from 26), etoys.com to 9 from 19) and fogdog.com (to 15 from 24) clearly reflect that people have begun their holiday shopping."

Gap.com cracked the No. 10 spot after a No. 14 showing in September. Though not in the Top 20, jcrew.com and landsend.com are poised to enter the Top 20 at No. 22 and No. 23 respectively.

PC Data Online defines Internet retail sites as Web sites where visitors can actually purchase products.

They include neither shopping domains that provide free downloads, product reviews, or purchasing incentives such as coupons, nor other types of e-commerce sites such as auction, travel reservation, or financial service sites.

The sample includes 80,000 home Internet users.PC Data Online also publishes a daily online buying meter based on more than 600 online retail sites as well as a weekly survey of consumer buying behavior and sentiment.