Oct. 25, 2004--Americans are shopping more online this year than last -- and are predicted to spend 27.6% more money shopping online this holiday season than during last year's.

According to a report released by eMarketer, a provider of e-business and Internet projections, this holiday season should eclipse $22 billion, up from $17.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2003.

"We look at data from the Department of Commerce, macroeconomic factors, the job market, the GDP and several other sources to come up with these numbers," Jeffrey Grau, a senior analyst at eMarketer said. "We also look at historic numbers in order to get a look at the whole picture."

This quarter will also mark a changing in the ranks of how consumers purchase. For the first time, total dollars from online purchases will surpass total dollars from catalog purchases.

"Online stores are learning more each year about making shopping as easy as possible for consumers," Grau said. "Even with the war and high oil prices on people's minds, this is still going to be a great holiday season for all retailers."

Some of the reasons for this steep increase are the solidification of consumer confidence in brand name, online stores like Amazon, Sephora, and Netflix. In addition to that the proliferation of broadband Internet into more and more homes allows for more shopping and requires far less patience.

Spending usually increases during the final quarter, for obvious reasons, and accounted for 31.5% of total purchases last year. Grau also points out that though in the brick and mortar world of retail the season normally starts on Black Friday, in the online world the upswing in spending begins in the middle of October.

But to keep it all in perspective, the online world is not about to shut down the world of walk-in retail any time soon.

"Online revenue was only about 2% of the $3.4 trillion revenue pie last year," Grau adds.