07:08 PM

Sales Strong On Cyber Monday, Estimates Say

Sales were up 24% year over year the first Monday after Thanksgiving, which was this week, according to preliminary results from ComScore Networks. Final results are due Wednesday.

Cyber Monday isn't the biggest online shopping day of the holiday season, but indications are that the traditional kickoff of gift buying on the Web is looking strong.

ComScore Networks has predicted that online retailers on would ring up $599 million in sales, which is 24% more than the same day last year. Cyber Monday refers to the Monday following the Thanksgiving weekend. The biggest online shopping days of the year are usually closer to mid-December.

ComScore is scheduled to release its final numbers for Cyber Monday on Wednesday.

On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional kickoff of offline holiday sales, online retailers sold $434 million in goods, up 42% from a year ago, according to ComScore. Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 24, total online spending reached $8.3 billion, a 23% increase over the same period last year.

Some sites reported high traffic on Cyber Monday., which hosts more than 1,500 online retail stores, said Tuesday that sales volume on the sites grew 33% compared with the same day two weeks before, and traffic rose 25% from the previous week.

Microsoft said the number of visits to MSN Shopping rose 63% from last year. The company credited the traffic increase to an improved selection, better gift guides, a popular sales and deals page, and tighter integration with MSN and Live Search.

Offline sales during the first two days of the season, starting with Black Friday, were healthy. Retailers took in $8.96 billion, an increase of 6% over last year, according to ShopperTrak RCT Corp. The momentum, however, didn't carry over to Saturday, when sales for the day fell 0.4% from a year ago to $5.7 billion. Both days combined, however, reflected a 3.4% increase over the same period in 2005.

ShopperTrak expects sales to start slow because shoppers have an extra weekend this year before Christmas. The Saturday before Christmas is expected to be the biggest shopping day of the year.

"Folks are going to procrastinate and take advantage of that extra weekend," a ShopperTrak spokesman said Tuesday.

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