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Online shopping up 24% in US holiday season

Spending by Americans shopping online during this year's holiday season rose 24% from a year earlier to $8.8bn, with sharp gains in purchases of clothing and entertainment, web company VeriSign said on Thursday.
VeriSign, a maker of authentication tools and services for web sites, said the final five shopping days during the week of December 20 accounted for $1.5bn in online purchases.
VeriSign's statistics for the period from Thanksgiving, on November 25, through December 27 were based on online sales processed through VeriSign Payment Services, which VeriSign says handles more than 35% of all North American e-commerce and represents around 120,000 online retailers.
Online apparel purchases rose 45% during the holiday period, with women's apparel accounting for 40% of the total, Mountain View, California-based VeriSign said.
Entertainment purchases, including music and video downloads, rose 54%, while online transactions in photo printing and sharing rose 120%.
VeriSign also saw an increase in gift-certificate purchases, mirroring findings seen in other recent surveys. VeriSign's upbeat holiday shopping assessment echoes other industry reports this week of healthy holiday web shopping.
Online retailer Amazon.com, which operates the most-visited web retail site after eBay, on Monday said it logged its busiest holiday shopping season in its 10-year history.
Internet research firm comScore said online sales from November 1 through December 26 were $14.8bn, up 29% from a year ago.
Those figures exclude travel and auctions. Among its various operations, VeriSign also manages millions of domain names such as ".com" that steer Internet traffic.
VeriSign shares were up 6 cents at $33.95 on the Nasdaq on midday Eastern time, after falling about 30 cents in early trade. The stock is up about 108% on the year.

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