WASHINGTON - U.S. retail sales over the Internet rose 4.7 percent in the final quarter of last year as Americans increasingly turned on their computers to shop, the Commerce Dept. said on Thursday.

Purchases over the Internet, by e-mail or through other electronic networks increased to a seasonally adjusted $18.42 billion in the October-December period to capture a record 2 percent of overall retail sales.

So-called e-commerce sales have been gradually increasing since the government first began publishing data in 1999.

Fourth quarter e-commerce sales were 22.1 percent above the year-ago level. In comparison, overall retail sales gained just 8.2 percent.

E-commerce sales include goods and services negotiated via the Internet but exclude online travel services, ticket sales and the services of financial brokers and dealers.
Source: Reuters