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Retail Index Finds Jewelry Sales Up in February

Jewelry and furniture sales grew in February, while traditional categories, including books, music, and software hit a lull, according to the latest figures from the NRF/Forrester Online Retail Index.

The index is produced by the National Retail Federation and Forrester Research Inc. in conjunction with Greenfield Online.

"Valentine's Day was a big reason why consumers spent over $17 million more in February on jewelry than in January," said David M. Cooperstein, research director at Forrester. "The increase was also due to the success of aggressive marketing campaigns from high-end jewelers."

The second of the monthly NRF/Forrester Index reports also showed that online furniture sales grew from $22 million in January to $38 million in February.

Spending in traditional online categories, including books, music, and software, experienced a calm. Combined sales in these three categories fell from $554.1 million to $420.9 million. Total spending declined to an estimated $2.3 billion in February from $2.7 billion in January.

Results from the February Index indicate that although individual consumers spent the same amount on average in February as they did in January, there were simply fewer shoppers.

"The decline in online retail spending from January to February is interesting, in light of the gain in overall retail spending for the same period announced earlier this week by the Department of Commerce," said Scott Silverman, NRF vice president of Internet Retailing. "The Internet as a retail channel remains volatile, but as this channel matures we expect online spending to more closely follow the overall industry trend."

The Index is based on 5,000 responses to an online panel fielded by Greenfield Online during the first 10 business days of each month. The monthly panel is weighted to Forrester Research's Benchmark Panel, which surveyed nearly 90,000 U.S. and Canadian members of a consumer mail panel developed by NPD Group, a market research firm. Data was weighted to represent the North American population demographically.