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Online holiday sales prove strong in an otherwise gloomy holiday selling season

Posted: Friday, January 04, 2002

NEW YORK (AP)-- Online sales this holiday turned out to be something to cheer about in an otherwise gloomy selling season.

More shoppers turned to the Web for bargains, according to various company reports and surveys released this week.

The good news from the online front is far different from the brick-and-mortar world, which, with the exception of discount chains like Wal-Mart, struggled this holiday season. Luxury stores were hit particularly hard.

Bargain-hunting shoppers found it more efficient to go online than to go from store to store, said Chuck Davis, chief executive of Bizrate.com, a research firm that tracks 2,000 Internet sites.

Between Nov. 19 and Dec. 24, online sales, excluding travel, were up 36 percent to $6.57 billion from $4.83 billion last year. Bizrate.com had projected a gain of 31 percent for the season.

The average online purchase this holiday was $126, up from last year's $112, Davis said.

ComScore Networks, a Reston, Va., research firm, said online sales during the wider fourth-quarter period were coming in ahead of projections. ComScore said it expects online sales to reach $10.5 billion, up nearly 15 percent from a year ago.

Michael P. Niemira, vice president of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, said he expects an anemic average gain of 1.5 percent to 1.7 percent in holiday season sales for the 88 brick-and-mortar stores he tracks.

That would probably be the worst performance in the 30 years Niemira has tracked retail data.



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