U.S. holiday shoppers continue to turn to the Internet when searching for presents for family and friends, according to data released recently by VeriSign Inc., a provider of network security and authentication services to about 120,000 online retailers. Those companies took in US$8.8 billion in online spending during the period between the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 25 and the Monday after Christmas, Dec. 27. This was an increase of 24 percent compared to the same period last year, VeriSign said.

Digital photography equipment and entertainment were two of the fastest growing categories from last year to this year. Transactions involving products that allow users to print and share digital photos increased 120 percent, while music and video downloads increased 54 percent, VeriSign said.

Not only did more people find holiday gifts online, but the average shopper was more willing to purchase expensive items online than in 2003. The average transaction amount for the period between Thanksgiving and the Monday after Christmas was $145, up 12 percent from last year.

Consumers spent more money per transaction on electronics products than any other category. The average transaction for a product in the electronics category was $291, and spending across the entire category increased by 17 percent during the holiday shopping period.



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