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Report: Uptick in online retail sales

Online retail sales jumped 28.2 percent in the fourth quarter, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Online retail sales jumped 28.2 percent in the fourth quarter, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Sales jumped to $14.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2002, up from $11.2 billion during the same period of 2001.

The report may indicate that e-commerce sales are again on the upswing. Last year, e-tailers posted only modest growth, ringing up just a 13.1 percent increase between the fourth quarters of 2000 and 2001. From 1999 to 2000, fourth quarter e-commerce sales rose a whopping 68.6 percent.

The report, which estimates U.S. retail e-commerce sales based on a random sampling of 11,000 retail companies, documents that consumers are increasingly turning to the Web for their purchases despite the dot-com downturn.

Although online sales account for a small amount of retail sales, that percentage is growing each year. In 1999, online sales accounted for just 0.7 percent of all sales. That number jumped to 1.2 percent in 2000 and 1.3 percent in 2001. Last quarter, online sales accounted for 1.6 percent of all sales.

What's more, e-commerce spending has grown substantially, nearly tripling in the last three years to $14.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2002 from $5.5 billion in the same period of 1999, according to the report.