U.S. online holiday spending rose 25 percent, study finds

Tempted by lower prices and a wide selection of goods, U.S. shoppers clamored to the Web this holiday season, spending US$23.2 billion, or 25 percent more than in the previous year, according to a survey released this week.

The survey, by Goldman Sachs & Co., Harris Interactive Inc. and Nielsen//NetRatings, found that consumers spent the most on apparel, toys, video games and consumer electronics during the shopping season spanning Nov.1 to Dec. 26.

Apparel, or clothing, reaped 16 percent of revenue, or about $3.8 billion, while toys and video games claimed 11 percent, or $2.5 billion. Consumer electronics followed with 10 percent, or $2.3 billion of holiday online revenue, according to the survey. The survey did not include online travel, which often claims a significant portion of online spending.

While the figures show that many were regaled with new clothes and games over the holidays, growth in other categories point to shoppers' softer and more practical sides.

The biggest growth categories were jewelry, flowers and computer hardware and peripherals, the survey found. Jewelry sales more than doubled, jumping 113 percent to $1.9 billion, while florists saw online revenue grow 59 percent to $530 million. Sales of computer hardware and peripherals grew 30 percent to $2.1 billion.

Comprehensive product information and competitive prices may have contributed to the overall increase in online shopping, the researchers said. The broad selection of available goods and convenient shipping services may have also persuaded shoppers to go online instead of to the mall, they said.

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