New York investment firm Goldman Sachs and polling organizations Harris Interactive and Nielsen/NetRatings report that Americans spent $13.8 billion online in November and December last year, with online spending rising 15% year-over-year compared with the 2000 holiday season.

The report is both positive news for both just-in-time delivery fleets and carriers that haul products from the manufacturers to distribution centers.

"Online holiday spending continued its growth, despite pressures from the slowing U.S. economy. However, the 15% increase is more modest than the higher gains experienced in seasons past," said Lori Iventosch-James, director of electronic commerce research at Harris Interactive.

Harris Interactive and Nielsen/NetRatings gained their data via a monthly survey of 36,000 Internet users called eCommercePulse. The survey data is weighted to represent the online population and has an overall precision of plus or minus 4.4%.

Jupiter Media Metrix, a New York-based Internet analysis firm, added that, on average, 51.3-million visitors went to shopping sites each week during the 2001 holiday-shopping season – an increase of 50% compared to the 2000 holiday-shopping season and up 95% over 1999.

Charles Buchwalter, vp-media research for Jupiter, said that unlike 2000, when online shopping started strong but then fell off, online shopping this year started strong and ended even stronger.

Customer satisfaction with e-commerce services also rose during the holiday season, as 86% of online shoppers surveyed cited that they were satisfied with their experience. Of those surveyed, 24% said that they had a better experience shopping on the Web this season compared to last year, said Sean Kaldor, vice president of analytical services for NetRatings.

"While 1999 was nearly a disaster for customer service online, most major problems had been addressed in 2000. With 15% spending growth this year, 'e-tailers' were well prepared and able to deliver a consistent or even improved level of service in 2001," he said. "The future of e-tailing will depend heavily upon how well merchants are able to maintain this consistent satisfaction level despite varying levels of spending growth and in the face of increasing demands for profit."