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Tue, Dec 09, 2008 - Page 10 News List

US online spending up 9% during first week of December


Online spending at US retailers jumped 9 percent from last Monday to Friday compared with a year earlier, boosted by sales of sporting goods and electronics, research firm ComScore Inc said.

Internet retail spending in the US may be little changed for the final two months of the year compared with last year unless purchases pick up, the Reston, Virginia-based research firm said yesterday in a statement.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Sears Holdings Corp and other retailers have promoted discounted clothing and electronics and offered free shipping to entice consumers to buy gifts. Higher food prices and declining home values helped push the US economy into a recession, and the National Retail Federation has projected this will be the worst holiday season in six years.

“We need to see continued strong growth during the critical weeks between today and Christmas if this year’s shopping season is to at least match that of last year,” ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni said in the statement.

Consumers spent US$14.9 billion online from Nov. 1 to Friday, ComScore said. That represents approximately the same amount spent during a similar period a year earlier, ComScore said.

Holiday spending climbed 19 percent last year compared with 2006, ComScore said.

Among the largest retail sites, Amazon.com Inc, Wal-Mart and Apple Inc saw the biggest increases in visitors compared with last year. Dell Inc and overstock.com Inc experienced the largest declines.

Sport and fitness and consumer electronics online sites saw the largest growth because of “significant” price reductions, the firm said.

Amazon.com, the world’s largest Internet retailer, had its stock rating raised to “overweight” from “equal weight” on Dec. 4 by Barclays Capital.

Douglas Anmuth, an analyst at the firm, said the company is well positioned to gain market share during the economic slump as rivals close stores and cut back on inventory.

Amazon.com rose US$40.94, or 2 percent, to US$48.26 on Friday in NASDAQ Stock Market composite trading. The shares have gained 38 percent since Nov. 20, outpacing a 30 percent increase by the Standard & Poor’s 500 Retailing Index.

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