Shopping sites ring up higher sales

Retail sales at online stores rose by more than a quarter in the first few months of 2004, according to government data.

Retail e-commerce sales grew by 28.1 percent in the first quarter of 2004 compared with the same period last year, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce on Friday.

The total volume of sales through online stores in the three months ended March 31 was $15.5 billion, or 1.9 percent of total sales recorded in the United States. This percentage was 1.6 in the same quarter of 2003.

However, e-commerce sales slipped by 11.4 percent in the first quarter of 2004 from the news:link id="5134849">previous quarter. Total retail sales dipped by 8.5 percent from the prior quarter. Retail numbers typically drop off after the fourth quarter, which is boosted by holiday sales.

Online sales witnessed significant growth in 2003, propelled by record holiday sales and increased consumer confidence. The government has been trying to boost e-commerce through tax waivers. Recently the Senate voted in favor of a ban on taxes on Internet access such as digital subscriber line and cable connections.