Chuck Davis, CEO of BizRate.com, a comparison shopping site that also tracks sales at 2,000 e-commerce sites, believes this past holiday season was a breakthrough for some retailers thanks to a surge in female shoppers. He estimated that 62% of the online purchases in Q4 were made by women, up from 52% a year earlier. For all of last year, 60% of purchases were made by women, compared with 55% in 2002. Many of these online retailers, which tend to be privately held, posted double-digit holiday sales gains that beat their forecasts, and they also expect big gains in 2004. That compares to modest increases for their offline rivals.