The online holiday season is off and running with traffic up 60 percent for the week ended Nov. 14 from the prior seven-day period, Nielsen//NetRatings said Tuesday.
The Internet audience research firm, which unveiled its sixth annual Holiday eShopping Index Tuesday, said shopping visits to Web sites in the home and garden, books/music/video, and toys and video games led traffic growth.
"As Black Friday approaches, shoppers are flocking online to research holiday gifts, comparison shop, and look at the vast array of products available," said Heather Dougherty, senior retail analyst at Nielsen//NetRatings.
Black Friday, the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year.
The home and garden category saw weekly traffic soar 88 percent, as sites run by Home Depot Inc. and Pottery Barn saw traffic increases of 159 percent and 97 percent, respectively.
Visits to books/music/video sites were up 87 percent, fueled in part by a 233 percent increase in visits to No. 2 online bookseller barnesandnoble.com.
The toys and video games category was up 85 percent as traffic to KBToys.com skyrocketed 276 percent and EBgames.com soared 210 percent.
Apparel, another key category for holiday sales where retailers garner a bulk of annual sales, saw a 75 percent increase as the Gap Inc.'s online traffic rose 245 percent and Lands' End increased 68 percent.
Shopping comparison/portals rounded out the five fastest growing categories in the index with a 73 percent increase. Within the category, Yahoo Shopping's traffic grew 174 percent while MySimon's jumped 133 percent.