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Online stores get black Christmas

Holiday sales on the Internet jumped almost a quarter, according to transaction processor.

Robert Lemos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Robert Lemos
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Robert Lemos
Sales of goods on the Internet during the holiday season jumped to $8.8 billion, a 24 percent increase over last year, according to Internet service provider VeriSign.

The data, culled from VeriSign's online payment services, which the company said handles 35 percent of North American e-commerce, showed a similar increase to earlier surveys that found online sales up 23 percent in November alone. VeriSign's data measured the total volume of sales between Thanksgiving and December 27.

"Through the online data we collected, we have seen clear changes in consumer behavior such as accelerated weekday shopping activity, more confidence in buying digital goods from e-commerce sites, an increase in gift-certificate purchases as well as the direct impact of shipping lead times on sales," said Trevor Healy, vice president of payment services for VeriSign.

The data gave Internet stores more to cheer about than their offline brick-and-mortar competitors. Analyst estimates for real-world retailers predicted a 2 percent to 5 percent increase in sales over last year, according to reports. In fact, the demand for shopping online may have caused some stores to become inaccessible during some periods.

Electronics seemed to be the most lucrative category, averaging $291 per purchase. Housewares garnered the second highest average ticket price, at $148. The average sale amount overall was $145 per transaction.