According to Comscore, which tracks e-tailing activity, online shoppers spent $9.6 billion so far excluding travel and auction sales. That tally puts online sales slightly ahead or on track to hit Comscore's forecast of $10 billion to $10.25 billion.
Comscore said it expects the fourth-quarter online sales total to be about $10.5 billion, up 15 percent from a year ago--not bad considering retailing sales overall have been anemic because of the weak economy.
The statistics jibe with anecdotal evidence coming from e-commerce companies. Last week, Yahoo was upbeat about growth on its shopping area, and smaller e-tailers such as Red Envelope also reported strong activity.
Online travel sales are at $4.2 billion for the fourth quarter so far, with Comscore expecting the quarter to be down about 10 percent compared with the third quarter.
For the fourth quarter to Dec. 23, apparel and accessories had the biggest sales jump, up 50 percent compared with the third quarter total. Flowers and gifts, up 135 percent; toys, up 235 percent; consumer electronics and video games, up 35 percent; and home and garden, up 31 percent, were winners compared with the third quarter.
Book sales were up 18 percent, but computer software sales fell 7 percent for the fourth quarter to Dec. 23 compared with the third quarter total.
Among other items in the Comscore report: