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RealTime IT News

Online Shoppers Came Through For Holidays

A major e-tailing tally is in for the critical Christmas shopping season and it shows a 30 percent jump in holiday spending online.

Online holiday shoppers forked over $30.1 billion in the weeks leading up to Christmas, according to the weekly eSpending report produced by Goldman Sachs, Nielsen//NetRatings and Harris Interactive.

What drove the hike over last year's spending levels? The usual desires/categories: apparel/clothing, computer hardware/peripherals and consumer electronics. But price cuts and free shipping also helped entice shoppers to forego the mall.

Still, this year's report showed that at $30.1 billion spent (and that doesn't count travel) between Oct. 29 and Dec. 23, this year's online selling season was one to remember for e-tailers.

Anthony Noto, Internet and entertainment analyst for Goldman Sachs, said in the report that consumers continued to shop later in the online holiday season, reflecting more growth in their trust of on-time delivery schedules.

But he warned that although holiday sales appear to be at the high end of expectations so far, the field of e-tailers could get more crowded and hurt profits of the other players.

Of that $30.1 billion, clothing and apparel stayed atop the pile with $5.3 billion of the total, which is up by 42 percent from last year's totals in that category. Clothing remains a perennial top spot on any sales list category like this, analysts in the report said, which mirrors offline sales data too.

At second place in the stats, computer hardware/peripherals saw sales of $4.8 billion, which the report said represented a 126 percent year-over-year growth in online revenue. Consumer electronics sales were in the same skyrocketing stat range, taking in $4.8 billion, a jump of 109 percent over last year's tally.

What gives? According to Heather Dougherty, senior retail analyst for Nielsen//NetRatings, price reductions on consumer electronics such as laptops, plasma TVs, color printers, along with high demand for iPods, digital cameras and media accessories made the major difference this year.

"The 2005 holiday season was a gadget year for consumers of all ages, and consumers continued to show their love for free shipping," Dougherty said.

Other categories counted: books and toys/video games, which brought in $3 billion and $2.3 billion respectively.