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E-Commerce Volume Peaked to US $11.06 billion in 2002/Q3
November 25, 2002

According to an U.S Department of Commerce survey released Friday, e-commerce retail sales in 2002/Q3 skyrocketed to their highest dollar value since reporting began in 1999.

The survey by the Census Bureau of 11,000 stores showed that sales, not adjusted for seasonal, holiday and trading-day differences reached US $11.06 billion. That figure represents a 34.3% increase from last year. In fact, the year-over-year increase is the largest since 2001's first-quarter gain of 42%. This is also a 7.8% increase from 2002/Q2.

Total online and offline retail sales in the third quarter of 2002 were estimated at $827.5 billion, an increase of 5.8% from the same period a year ago.

Online retail sales in the third quarter of 2002 represented 1.3% of all retail sales, a 0.1% jump from Q2 and a 0.2% jump from a year earlier.

The Department of Commerce noted an error margin of +/- 0.4%, adding that more than 2 million retail firms were surveyed. In order to qualify for an e-commerce classification, a retailer's customers needed only to place orders online, not necessarily to pay for items over the Internet. Online travel services, financial brokers and dealers, and ticket sales agencies are not considered by the Commerce Department to be retail services and were not included in the estimates.

The increase in e-shopping was also noted by Nielsen/Netratings, which reported that in the week ended November 3rd, shopping activity increased 12%, for a total of more than 109.7 million shopping trips.

The two top-performing categories were toys and games with 4 million shoppers, representing 34% growth over the previous week, and consumer electronics with 5 million shoppers, a 26% increase from the preceding week.

Books, music and video took third place with 6.9 million visitors, an increase of 25% over the previous week.

Although the numbers of shoppers may be up, analysts note that retailers are "running scared" this year, partly because a relatively late Thanksgiving has shortened the holiday shopping season by 6 days.

Retail e-commerce sales estimates for 2002/Q4 are scheduled to be released in February 2003.

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