March 5, 2004, 12:00 AM

Nothing but up

Fourth quarter online retail sales reached $17.2 billion, 25.1% over fourth quarter 2002, the Commerce Department reported.

Fourth quarter online retail sales reached $17.2 billion, 25.1% over fourth quarter 2002, the Commerce Department reported last month. The Q4 numbers brought full-year online retail sales to $54.9 billion, up 26.2% from $43.5 billion in 2002.

Total retail sales last year were up 5.5% to $3.42 trillion from $3.24 trillion the year before, the Commerce Department reported. For the year, online retail sales accounted for 1.6% of all retail sales as measured by the Commerce Department vs. 1.4% in 2002.

The percentage of online sales was even higher in Q4, when they accounted for 1.09% of all sales.

The Commerce Department bases its numbers, net of returns, on a survey of 11,000 retailers nationwide.

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