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12/26/2006
03:32 PM
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Online To Outpace Overall Holiday Sales Growth Fourfold

Latest online figures from comScore Networks show that online sales are expected to increase 25% to $24.6 billion.

Online holiday sales growth is on track to be nearly four times higher than overall retail sales during the busiest time of the year.

Credit card company Visa USA lowered its forecast for overall holiday sales growth to 6.5% over last year from its earlier projected 7.5% gain, The New York Times reported Tuesday. Latest online figures from comScore Networks, meanwhile, show that online sales are expected to increase 25% to $24.6 billion.

ComScore expects to release its sales numbers for Nov. 1 through Christmas Eve by Friday, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Visa's forecast is a closely watched indicator of the economy, given that $17 out of $100 are spent on the company's 500 million credit cards.

Meanwhile, Nielsen/NetRatings reported late last week that visits to online-only retailers on its Holiday eShopping Index were 54% greater than visits to retailers with online offerings and brick-and-mortar stores. The number of visits to multichannel retailers, however, was 21% higher than last year, while visits to online-only retailers were up 12%.

The numbers indicate that multichannel retailers were investing heavily online, leveraging their advantage of being able to offer in-store pickups to eliminate shipping costs, Nielsen/NetRatings said. The firm's Holiday eShopping Index comprises more than 120 retailers with an online presence.

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