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U.S. Online Sales Hit $8.69B in 4Q

The U.S. Census Bureau said that retail purchases online came to an estimated $8.69 billion in the fourth quarter of last year, up from third quarter 2000 sales of $6.39 billion.

The bureau, a unit of the Commerce Department, said that for the first time, retail sales over the Internet accounted for 1 percent of all sales across the country. In the third quarter last year, retail Internet sales accounted for 0.8 percent of total purchases.

Total retail sales for the fourth quarter of 2000 were estimated at $856.2 billion. Total e-commerce sales for 2000 were estimated at $25.8 billion while total retail sales for 2000 were estimated at $3,232 billion.

The $25 billion figure sounds like a lot until one realizes that total spending in the United States is measured in the trillions. This is the fifth such quarterly survey the bureau has done.

In 1999, consumers spent $17.3 billion on Internet purchases, more than double the $7.7 billion spent in 1998, the report shows. Retail e-commerce sales are estimated from the same sample used in the bureau's Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS) to estimate preliminary and final U.S. retail sales.

The government said e-commerce sales are sales of goods and services over the Internet, an extranet, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), or other online system. Payment may or may not be made online.

Online travel services, financial brokers and dealers, and ticket sales agencies are not classified as retail and are not included in either the total retail or retail e-commerce sales estimates.