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Spending trend expected to grow for holidays

Most online shoppers have yet to buy their holiday gifts, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the money they are spending.

Most online shoppers have yet to buy their holiday gifts, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the money they already have spent.

Internet shoppers spent $222 million online last week, a $21 million jump from the week before, according to a weekly survey of 3,108 homes commissioned by investment banking firm Goldman Sachs and Internet research firm PC Data Online.

Of the households surveyed, most said that they had made a purchase that was not intended as a holiday gift. Only households that bought flowers or toys said their purchases were intended as gifts.

The study appears to support analysts' predictions that the upcoming holiday season will dwarf last year's. "With nearly 65 percent of Internet shoppers not yet buying for the holidays, we should see online sales exceed all expectations in the next two months," PC Data Online analyst Cameron Meieroefer said.

Jupiter Communications, a New York-based research and advisory firm, projects consumers will spend $6.1 billion online between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, nearly double the $3.1 billion spent online during the holidays last year.

Regardless of the expected rise in online shopping this holiday season, consumers are a long way from abandoning brick-and-mortar malls.

Of the Internet shoppers surveyed, 90 percent said they enjoy the online shopping experience; however, they still intend to buy 60 percent of their gifts at traditional retail stores.

"Each week (Internet shoppers) spend a little more time online," Meieroefer said. "Consumers will be better prepared at the mall this year. They'll know exactly what they want and be ready to buy--if the price is right."

Music, computer software, books, videos and toys are the most popular items with online shoppers, according to the study.

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