For the first time, clothing surpassed computers in U.S. online sales, with online shoppers spending $18.3 billion on apparel, accessories, and footwear last year, reported on Monday.

Online computer sales totaled $17.2 billion, followed by cars and auto parts at $16.7 billion, the report said.

The gains in online clothing sales were attributed to range of benefits and incentives, including free shipping, free returns and exchanges, and applications that allow customers to better view products on retail webites. Online clothing sales are projected to reach $22.1 billion this year, representing about 10 percent of all clothing sales nationwide, while total retail sales are expected to grow by 18 percent to $259.1 billion, the report said.

"Apparel retailers have overcome a number of hurdles to encourage shoppers to buy clothing and accessories online," Scott Silverman, executive director of, said in a statement. "Retailers are doing such a great job online that in some cases it's easier to find and buy clothing on the Web than it is in a store."

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Published on: May 14, 2007