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ONLINE SALES SHOW SHARP GAIN

Internet sales of everything from books to cars boomed during the final three months of 2000 even as the nation's economy slowed sharply.

Online purchases rose by 35.9 percent to $8.69 billion in the fourth quarter from the third-quarter, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

Those sales accounted for 1 percent of the $856.2 billion in total retail sales rung up during the fourth quarter. In the third quarter, online sales represented 0.8 percent of all retail sales.

For all of 2000, online sales totaled $25.8 billion. That accounted for 0.8 percent of the $3.2 trillion in all retail sales during the year.

Books, cars and clothing are among the online sales tracked, which started last year. The statistics don't include sales from online travel services, financial services and ticket sales for things like music concerts.

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