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Net sales rose 15.3 per cent to top $6.3 billion between June and September, according to figures released by the American government today.

The US Commerce Department's fourth quarterly report showed growth beat the 5.5 per cent in the second quarter and 0.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2000.

The surge in online shopping compared favourably with general retail sales, which sagged slightly in Q3 - down 0.4 per cent after April to June's hefty 9.1 per cent rise.

E-commerce accounted for a record 0.78 per cent of total sales for the quarter - compared to 0.68 per cent in Q2.

The Commerce Department includes general goods sold online in its reports, but it doesn't count sales from items such as online travel sites, financial services and concert tickets, and can therefore offer lower figures than other reports.

E-tailers including Yahoo! Amazon and eToys all saw their share price rise in early morning trading on Nasdaq today following strong shopping sales over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Meanwhile, November has been a record month of misery from dotcom workers. A total of 8,789 staff at Internet companies lost their jobs, 55 per cent higher than in October, according to a report by recruitment company Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

A copy of the Commerce Department report can be found here. ®

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