Last-Minute Shopping Boosts Online Holiday Sales 12%

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Online retail spending is up 12% so far this holiday season compared to a year ago, according to a report released by ComScore on Wednesday. Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 19, Americans spent $28.4 billion on retail items on the Web, up from $25.3 billion a year earlier, ComScore says.

Shoppers have been spending more as Christmas draws nearer: Last weekend, online spending jumped 17% over the year-ago weekend, and last week drew $5.5 billion in sales, making it the top week of online spending on record, ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said in a statement.

Online spending is growing faster than ComScore had forecast last month, which the research firm attributes to free shipping deals from retailers such as Amazon.com (AMZN) and Walmart (WMT). In November, ComScore estimated that online holiday spending would grow between 7% and 9% from the same period a year earlier -- about triple the growth rate for overall retail sales.

Early this holiday season, analysts forecast that overall retail sales would climb as much as 4% from last year after revenue from Black Friday -- the day after Thanksgiving, and often the biggest shopping day of the year -- exceeded expectations.

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