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Talking turkey--online shopping jumps

When they weren't feasting on turkey, consumers turned to online shopping this holiday weekend, according to reports.

E-commerce shoppers pushed sales up by double digits over the holiday weekend, taking ample time out from feasting and family activities to spend money online, according to companies that monitor Internet sales.

Online shopping jumped more than 32 percent year-over-year in the two days following Thanksgiving, and it accounted for 7.7 percent of all transactions on Visa credit cards during that period, according to Visa USA. But the larger surge in Visa-related e-commerce transactions came on Thanksgiving Day, according to the Visa report.

E-commerce sales rose 41 percent, to $205 million, and accounted for 13 percent of all Visa-related transactions on Thanksgiving Day, according to Visa.

"Online shopping was higher than I anticipated for Thanksgiving Day. It showed more people snuck away from the dinner table to do online shopping," said Brad Nightengale, vice president of emerging products for Visa. "The 41 percent increase was significantly higher than any other day since Oct. 31, when holiday shopping began."

E-commerce holiday shopping is also anticipated to peak earlier this year, given the sales trend to date, Nightengale said.

Last year, a peak of $481 million e-commerce transactions was reached on Dec. 1. This year, that figure was nearly matched on Nov. 15, when $461 million Visa-related transactions were processed.

Shopping on company time
Holiday e-commerce sales are expected to further accelerate this week because shoppers tend to spend more time online during the weekdays than they do on weekends, when they can leisurely stroll through malls and stores, Nightengale said.

In the week before the Thanksgiving holiday, 58 percent of e-commerce purchases, excluding travel, occurred at work, according to ComScore Networks, a research firm that tracks human behavior. Forty-seven percent of online spending occurred between 1 and 5 p.m. during that period, according to ComScore.

Employers take note: Only 9 percent of online spending occurred during the lunch hour, ComScore said.

eBay enjoyed the highest number of unique visitors the day after Thanksgiving--known as Black Friday by retailers--according to Nielsen/NetRatings. The e-commerce titan drew 9.5 million unique visitors, followed by with 4.6 million visitors and Wal-Mart Stores with 3.4 million.

Online shoppers snapped up toys and video games, the fastest-growing retail category, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Visitors to toy and video game Web sites rose 152 percent from the week of Nov. 18 to the week of Nov. 25.

"The toys and video games category experienced the largest increases in traffic, fueled by the release of the Xbox 360 and the continued popularity of portable game consoles," Heather Dougherty, a Nielsen/NetRatings senior analyst, said in a statement.

Sites devoted to consumer electronics, as well as to computer hardware and software, also posted a triple-digit jump, with visitor increases of 142 percent and 102 percent, respectively, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.