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ComScore: Holiday spending to be 'highest on record'

Market researcher reports that sales at the start of the holiday shopping season are up over last year, and that pace will likely continue through the end of the year.

So far this year, online holiday shopping is up. And market research firm ComScore believes that trend will continue.

According to ComScore, consumers spent $9.01 billion during the first three weeks of November, representing a 13 percent gain over the $7.95 billion spent during the same period last year.

For the months of November and December combined, ComScore is forecasting $32.4 billion in online spending. Last year, consumers spent $29.1 billion during that two-month holiday shopping period. ComScore also said that from January through October, online consumers spent $109.9 billion, representing a 9 percent gain over the $100.7 billion they spent during the same period last year.

ComScore forecasts how much consumers will spend this holiday season.

"We are seeing online spending surpass the totals we saw in 2007 prior to the recession," ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni wrote in a statement, "and expect sales this holiday season to be the highest on record."

ComScore also asked some 500 consumers about the purchasing landscape they're seeing when shopping on the Web. While 40 percent of respondents said that discounts and other deals are "about the same" as they were last year, 36 percent said that they thought there were "more discounts, sales, or promotions" this year.

Free shipping is also quite important to online shoppers. ComScore found that 44 percent of respondents "actively seek out free shipping deals," while 33 percent of folks said that they "won't make a purchase" without free shipping.

ComScore didn't dig into what those consumers are buying. But if childrens' wish lists are dictating things, it might just be Apple's iPad and other prominent tech toys. Nielsen revealed in a study this week that Apple's tablet is the most desired product among kids between the ages of 6 and 12. A computer was the most coveted tech toy for teenagers.

• See also: CNET's guide to Black Friday deals