U.S. e-commerce returning to pre-attack levels

In the five weeks following the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S., online shopping almost rebounded to its pre-attack levels, although travel services continued to drag, according to statistics released Friday by Internet data-tracking company ComScore Networks Inc.

ComScore, which collects browsing and buying behavior from a panel of over 1.5 million Internet users, said that online dollar sales reached US$929 million during the week ending Oct. 21, five weeks after the attacks. This is just 7 percent less than the pre-attack weekly average of $999 million.

While nontravel related buying came in even with the weekly average recorded before Sept. 11, online travel commerce still remained 17 percent lower in the fifth week following the attacks.

Last month's attacks, in which four commercial planes were hijacked and three were plowed into U.S. landmarks, sent the travel industry into a tailspin. Although the airlines have attempted to shore up sales by slashing prices and offering promotions, the number of airline trips booked online are still down, ComScore reported.

The researcher also noted that while discretionary purchases, such as books and event tickets are still below pre-attack levels, essential goods such as apparel, health and beauty products are actually posting higher sales than they did before Sept. 11. In the week following the attacks, essential goods dipped 27 percent. Sales of discretionary items slipped 24 percent following the attacks and are just now returning to normal levels.

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