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U.S. Consumers Embracing E-Commerce

The U.S. Department of Commerce said its measures of retail electronic commerce show that consumers are continuing to embrace the medium as online sales climbed 15.3 percent in the third quarter.

The government said that not adjusted for seasonal, holiday and trading-day differences, e-tail sales came to an estimated $6.373 billion, an increase of 15.3 percent from the estimated $5.526 billion spent in the second quarter.

Still, for some perspective, total retail sales for third quarter 2000 were estimated at $812 billion, a decrease of 0.4 percent from second quarter 2000. E-commerce sales in the third quarter accounted for 0.78 percent of total sales. E-commerce sales in the second quarter were 0.68 percent of total sales.

"American consumers appear to be becoming more comfortable with shopping online," Commerce Undersecretary Robert Shapiro was quoted as saying at a Washington news conference. He said the e-tail sectors seeing the biggest increase in sales were auto dealers, bookstores and mail order firms selling online.

Retail e-commerce sales are estimated from the same sample used to estimate U.S. retail sales in the Monthly Retail Trade Survey. A stratified simple random sampling method is used to select over 12,000 retail firms whose sales are then weighted and benchmarked to represent the complete universe of over two million retail firms. Online travel services, financial brokers and dealers, and ticket sales agencies are not classified as retail and are not included, the government said.