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Online Retail Spending Falls in Q4

Sales showed negative growth for the first time since 2001.

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E-commerce sales for the fourth quarter of 2008 showed negative growth — a first since 2001, said ComScore Inc. in a report released Thursday.

The Internet market research company said online retail spending fell 3 percent for the period versus a year ago. For the full year of 2008, retail e-commerce spending grew 6 percent to $130.1 billion, representing a substantially lower growth rate than in previous years.

“The fourth quarter rounded out what was a particularly challenging year for online retailers,” ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said in a statement. “As we enter 2009 with rising unemployment and continued economic uncertainty, the first few months of the year will be especially critical in foretelling what 2009 has in store for the online retail sector.”

In 2008, the apparel and accessories category saw an increase of 4 percent. A few other categories saw even stronger growth despite the downturn. The sports and fitness arena was one of the best-performing online retail categories, up 25 percent.

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