By Jon Fortt
November 27, 2006

It’s not exactly a shocker with the console wars in full tilt and a refreshed lineup of iPods on shelves, but the data confirms it: Consumer electronics are the hottest category online this holiday season.

According to numbers released Monday by Nielsen//Netratings, Web traffic to retail sites the day after Thanksgiving was 12 percent higher than last year. The research firm estimates that 19.2 million visitors fanned out among about 120 big online retailers.

The top benefitting category was consumer electronics, which surged 211 percent above the level of a week before. (The consumer electronics category includes game consoles but not the video games themselves; it should be noted that consoles and games are often bundled, especially for new systems such as the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft (MSFT) Xbox 360, and Sony (SNE) Playstation 3.)

Table 1: Product Categories ranked by Week-Over-Week Growth (U.S., Home only)

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| Category | UA % Growth from 11/17 to 11/24 |

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| Consumer Electronics | 211% |

| Apparel | 117% |

| Home and Garden | 87% |

| Shopping Comparison/Portals | 79% |

| Beauty | 78% |

| Computer Hardware/Software | 77% |

| Toys/Videogames | 51% |

| Flowers and Gifts | 42% |

| Retail | 37% |

| Books/Music/Video | 23% |

| Shoes | 12% |

| Jewelry | N/A |

| TOTAL | 32% |

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Source: Nielsen//NetRatings Holiday eShopping Index, November 2006Best Buy (BBY), Circuit City (CC) and Wal-Mart (WMT) saw the biggest week-over-week traffic increases, while eBay and Amazon pulled in the most shoppers overall. Interestingly enough, eBay showed the lowest traffic increase; one must suppose that’s because the retail megastore has grown so large that a far bigger leap would be statistically impossible.

Table 2: Top 10 Online Shopping Destinations on Black Friday 2006 (U.S., Home

only)

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| Site | 11/17/2006 | 11/24/2006 | % Growth |

| | UA (000) | UA (000) | |

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| eBay | 6,423 | 7,454 | 16% |

| Amazon | 2,342 | 3,404 | 45% |

| Wal-Mart Stores | 1,115 | 3,248 | 191% |

| Target | 1,096 | 2,267 | 107% |

| BestBuy.com | 406 | 1,691 | 316% |

| Circuitcity.com | 367 | 1,140 | 211% |

| Shopzilla.com Network | 563 | 1,032 | 83% |

| JCPenney | 386 | 996 | 158% |

| Overstock.com | 376 | 957 | 155% |

| Sears | 460 | 887 | 93% |

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Source: Nielsen//NetRatings, November 2006In a related note, the new clip-on iPod shuffle ($79) has vaulted to the top of the sales charts on Apple Computer’s (AAPL) online store, which almost certainly foreshadows its rise to greatness as the ultimate stocking stuffer this holiday season. (It doesn’t hurt that Apple is offering free shipping on it and every other order from its site over $50.)

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