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E-Commerce Sales Run Straight Into Summer Blahs

Total e-tail sales online were stalled in July, increasing by less than 1 percent from $4.01 billion in June to $4.03 billion, according to the latest survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Forrester Research Inc. in conjunction with research firm Greenfield Online.

The NRF/Forrester Online Retail Index survey was the seventh in the monthly series of reports.

"The results of the July Index didn't come as a surprise, since, historically, less shopping goes on in the summer months," said Scott Silverman, NRF vice president for Internet Retailing. He said things should pick up again in the fall, and of course during the holiday shopping season.

Office supplies was the low-priced, small-ticket category that experienced the greatest increase -- from $110 million in June to nearly $150 million in July, according to the survey.

Spending on videos increased from $80 million in June to $94 million in July; footwear and apparel rose collectively from $197 million to $214 million; and sporting goods went from $76 million in June to $79 million in July.

For big-ticket items, the highest sales increase occurred in the appliances category, jumping to $50 million in July from $30 million in June.

Furniture sales also grew, going from $42 million in June to $50 million in July, but certainly not enough to help out Living.com, which this week said it is filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Computer hardware experienced the largest decrease for big-ticket items, falling from an estimated $424 million in June to $377 million in July. Not even beach-read purchases were able to keep book sales from dipping to $189.8 million from $197.5 million in June,

The survey found that the average spent per consumer in July was $290.01, up from $288.20 in June.

The Retail Index measures data collected from online shoppers. The index is based on 5,000 responses during the first 10 business days of the month from an online panel developed by Greenfield Online.

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 demographically represent the North American population.