Holiday Shoppers Spend $18.5 Bil. Online

BOSTON For the 2003 holiday season, shoppers spent a record $18.5 billion online excluding travel, according to the “eSpending Report” from Goldman, Sachs & Co., Harris Interactive and Nielsen/NetRatings.

The figure represents a 35 percent increase over the $13.7 billion spent in 2002.

According to the report, the apparel, toys/video games (hardware and software), consumer electronics, computer and DVD categories generated the most revenue this season. Web shoppers spent $3.8 billion on apparel, a 40 percent increase from 2002. Meanwhile, toys and video games garnered $2.2 billion, a 3.3 percent jump from the previous year.

“It indicates that customers are more comfortable shopping online,” said Lori Iventosch-James, director of e-commerce research at Harris Interactive in Rochester, N.Y.

The DVD category was up 45 percent with shoppers spending more than $1.5 million. Also popular was the consumer electronics category, with online shoppers spending $2 billion, an increase of 2 percent from the year before. Nielsen/NetRatings is a unit of VNU, parent of Adweek Magazines.