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Shopping Early, and Often

Online holiday shopping began early this year with home Internet users cruising retail sites in significant numbers during November, according to PC Data Online's latest Top 100 report.

With more than 26 million unique users, Amazon.com was the top Web retail site in November, while walmart.com, bestbuy.com, half.com and CDNow.com all increased significantly from the previous month.

Walmart.com's traffic increased 169 percent from 2.4 million unique users in October to 6.7 million unique users in November, according to the report. Bestbuy.com had a 98 percent increase with seven million unique users from 3.5 million the previous month. Half.com and cdnow.com had traffic increases of 33.2 percent and 18.7 percent respectively.

"Holiday shopping started early this year," said Jeff Moulton, an analyst for PC Data Online. "Home Internet users gravitated toward what they know -- Amazon.com and other recognized online and off-line brands."

He attributed the surge of early shoppers in part to savvier consumers who are aware of the shortages of 1999 and "are getting an early start to make sure their gifts are in stock and delivered on time."

The report found that the most visited sites were the usual suspects: yahoo.com, aol.com, msn.com and microsoft.com.

PC Data is an Internet research firm that specializes in Web commerce measurement. It compiles a monthly list of the top Web sites, based on "unique users" that visit the site. The list is based on a proprietary software tool that tracks visitors and buyers on each site.