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US E-Commerce Surges

Consumer Carol Uyeno looks at Cyber Monday sales on her computer at her home in Palo Alto, Calif., Nov. 29, 2010.

U.S. holiday shoppers may set an e-commerce record for one day of sales Monday, according to analysts at comScore. These experts say shoppers spent a record $1 billion in cyber sales last Friday.

Analysts call the Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday "Cyber Monday" because it has been the biggest day of the year for online shopping for the past few years.

Last Friday is referred to as "Black Friday" because that is when many merchants stop recording losses in red ink and begin adding up profits in black ink. The day after the religious and patriotic U.S. Thanksgiving holiday is a day off for many workers, and they use the opportunity to shop at traditional retail stores.

Retailers say sales in the last two months of the year, leading up to the traditional gift exchanges associated with Christmas on December 25, contribute 20 - 40 percent of their annual revenue.

Experts at the National Retail Federation say overall holiday sales will grow more than 4 percent this year, which is a little slower than the expansion this time last year.  Kathy Grannis of the NRF says online sales are growing at a very fast pace, but still account for just one-tenth of holiday commerce.

"Retail sales in 2011 grew to about $2.5 trillion. About 9 or 10 percent of that was based on e-commerce sales," Grannis said. "And that number has grown steadily from 3, 4, 5 percent.  So we are now encroaching on the double digit part of digital sales as they relate to U.S. sales."

Economists watch retails sales all year because consumer demand drives about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity. The United States is the world's largest economy, and consumers here buy products from all over the world, so a healthy U.S. economy can help the many nations that export to this key market.

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