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Last Updated: Monday, 23 February, 2004, 20:08 GMT
US online sales hit $50bn in 2003
Online retailers' logos
US shoppers spent more than $50bn shopping online in 2003, new figures show.

The numbers from the US Commerce Department indicates online shopping grew by 26.3% from the year before.

E-commerce occupied 1.6% of total retail spending of $3.5 trillion, up from 1.3% in 2003.

The sales were concentrated in the final three months of the year, when holiday shopping meant e-commerce made up almost 2% of total spending.

Overall, retail sales grew 5.4% through 2003.

Unsurprisingly, the data continues the trend of rapid growth marked in recent years for online shopping.

And early figures for 2004 - showing sales for Valentine's Day up 40% on the year before - indicate a continuation of the trend this year.

The growth to the $50.4bn figure for 2003 does, however, mark a slight reduction in the pace of expansion.

The Commerce Department compiles the figures thanks to a sampling survey of 11,000 retailers.

It does not, however, include online travel services, financial brokers and ticket sales agencies, which are excluded from both online and total retail sales figures.

Including those sectors, some estimates put total online retail sales in 2003 as high as $100bn.

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