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Shoppers Turn to Web for Last-Minute Deals

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NEW YORK--'Twas the season for last-minute online shopping. According to Jupiter Media Metrix, nearly 50 million shoppers fled to the Web the week before Christmas, a 57 percent increase from the same week last year.

"Based on the continuing strong growth in visitors to retail sites, consumers waited until the last minute to purchase their holiday gifts online this year," said Jared Blank, Jupiter analyst. "With the recent surge of holiday shopping promotions available on the Internet and in stores, consumers were hoping that desperate retailers would offer up last minute sales. Most of those consumers that did just ended up with higher shipping bills."

Despite the year-to-year growth, traffic to retail sites the week ending Dec. 23 was down nearly 5 percent from the week before which recorded more than 52 million shoppers.

EBay was the top e-tailer for the week ending Dec. 23, according to the Jupiter online shopping index, which aggregates Web visitors from both home and work to nearly 500 shopping sites. The auction site recorded more than 4 million visitors, close to a 99 percent jump from the same time last year. Online shopping behemoth Amazon.com brought in more than 2 million visitors, a 59 percent increase from last year. Other top retail sites included MyPoints.com, McAfee.com, AmericanGreetings.com, BizRate.com, Eshop.com, Hallmark.com, Columbia House sites and Half.com.