Online Shoppers Gearing Up For Holiday Season

Oct 28, 2005 (01:10 PM EDT)

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Shopping-comparison sites experienced robust traffic in September, a good sign for the upcoming holiday season, a Web metrics firm said Friday.

Last year, online holiday spending in the United States reached a record $23.2 billion, excluding travel, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. That number amounted to a 25 percent increase over 2003.

This year, Nielsen/NetRatings analysts "anticipate another strong online shopping season, if online retailers can meet the demands of an increasingly discriminating online clientele," the firm said.

Comparison-shopping sites are proving to be an effective method for comparing prices, reading product reviews and making purchases.

In September, the Network led the market with 15 million unique visitors, Nielsen/NetRatings said. The No. 2 Network was close behind with 14.8 million visitors, followed by Yahoo, 11.1 million; NexTag, 9.6 million and Google's Froogle, 6.4 million.

The top three online retail categories in the month, based on purchases, were toys, games and hobbies, 8.9 million purchases, or 15.6 percent of the total for the month; apparel and accessories, 8.2 million, or 14.4 percent; and home and garden, 7.6 million, or 13.3 percent.