December 30, 2004, 12:00 AM

VeriSign reports $8.8 billion in online purchases during Holiday 2004

Online shoppers using VeriSign’s payment services, representing 35% of North American e-commerce transactions, spent 24% more this holiday than last year. The average ticket was $145, up 12% over last year. Peak shopping day continued to be Monday.

For the holiday season starting Thanksgiving Day and extending through Dec. 27, online shoppers using VeriSign’s services spent $8.8 billion, up 24% over last year, reports the Mountain View, CA.-based provider of online infrastructure and payment services. VeriSign Inc.’s data are based on the analysis of online sales volume processed through VeriSign Payment Services, which represents more than 35% of all North American e-commerce.

The average price on an online purchase was $145, 12% higher than last year during the comparable period, and average ticket reached a season high of $178 on December 22, one of the last shipping days before Christmas, VeriSign reports. The final five shopping days before Dec. 25 accounted for $1.5 billion in online purchases.

“Through the online data we have collected, we have seen clear changes in consumer behavior such as accelerated weekday shopping activity, more confidence in buying digital goods from e-commerce sites, an increase in gift-certificate purchases, as well as the direct impact of shipping lead times on sales,” says Trevor Healy, vice president of payment services at VeriSign.

Comparing this year’s online holiday sales data with the comparable period last year, VeriSign found that online transactions for the electronics category increased 17%. This category also carried the highest average ticket price of any category, $291. Ranking second in the highest average ticket price was the kitchen and housewares category at $148.

Among other findings, VeriSign’s analysis determined that online transactions in the apparel category were up 45% over last year, with women’s apparel accounting for 40% of total sales in the category. Women’s apparel also had the highest average ticket increase over last year, rising 28% to $140. Online transactions for the entertainment category including music and video downloads were up 54% over 2003.

In analyzing online shoppers` spending patterns, VeriSign found that Monday was the busiest shopping day of the week, consistent with previous findings. On Monday Dec. 20, the peak online shopping day of the week, shoppers accounted for 4.8 million transactions, representing more than 23% of the week’s online activity.

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