April 27, 2001, 12:00 AM

E-retail spending grows 7% in March

E-retail sales grew 7% in March from February, while overall consumer web spending, which includes travel as well as retail, grew 3%.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

Retail sales on the Internet grew 7% in March from February, while overall consumer spending on the web, which includes travel as well as retail, grew 3%, the Forrester Online Retail Index by Forrester Research Inc. and Greenfield Online reports. Total spending on online sales increased from $3.4 billion in February to $3.5 billion in March. The number of households shopping online remained at 13.5 million in March. Consumers spent an average of $263 per person in March, compared with $248 in February.

The biggest selling retail categories online continued to be computer hardware ($400.4 million in sales) and consumer electronics ($207.2 million). Among smaller-ticket items, the biggest selling categories were apparel ($177.5 million), books ($147.9 million) and software ($135.8 million). The Index includes airline, car rental and hotel reservations, which totaled $1.016 billion, down 5.9% from February’s $1.08 billion.

Retail purchases on the Internet, not counting travel, thus equaled $2.48 billion in March, up from $2.32 billion in February. Factoring out the decline in travel spending, retail spending actually increased 7% in March from February.

Forrester Online Retail Index measures on a monthly basis the growth and seasonality of online shopping based on data collected from online shoppers. The Index is based on 5,000 responses during the first nine business days of the month from an online panel developed by Greenfield Online.

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