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RESTON, Va. — Online retail spending reached $36.3 billion for third quarter 2011, up 13% from last year, according to comScore. This growth rate represented the eighth consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth rates.
The top-performing online product categories were: digital content and subscriptions, event tickets, jewelry and watches, consumer electronics (excluding computer peripherals) and computer software. Each category grew at least 15% versus a year ago, comScore reported.
“The third quarter of 2011 saw a continuation of the year’s strength in U.S. retail e-commerce spending, even in the face of renewed economic headwinds and uncertainty facing the U.S. consumer,” comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni said. “More consumers than ever before are relying on the online channel for product and pricing information, which along with the Internet’s fundamental appeal of convenience and attractive pricing, are contributing to the sustained upward momentum in e-commerce spending.”
Other highlights from third quarter 2011 include:
The 13% increase was primarily a function of an increase in the number of buyers (up 22%), with 74% of all Internet users making at least one online purchase in the quarter; and
Forty percent of e-commerce transactions included free shipping, down from a peak of 49% in fourth quarter 2010. Free shipping rates tend to peak during the holiday season.