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Women are slightly more likely than men to be online shoppers this year, according to Retail Forward Inc.
That's a "significantly different picture from the early days of online shopping when men dominated the ranks," said Mary Brett Whitfield, the research firm's senior vice president.
And it's good news for online retailers because women are the primary shoppers in most U.S. households.
In fact, women are credited with sending several merchandise categories higher in this year, according to The State of Retailing Online 8.0, an annual Shop.org study conducted by Forrester Research.
Categories with products purchased largely by women will see the most growth this year, the report said.
Online sales of cosmetics and fragrances are expected to increase 33 percent this year, and flowers, cards and gifts are expected to be up 30 percent. Jewelry and luxury goods also benefit from women's move to the Web.
"Though initially adopted by men as a shopping tool, women are flocking to the Internet in droves to comparison-shop, research and buy," according to Shop.org.
Maybe it's not a coincidence that J.C. Penney Co.'s Internet sales are up more than 30 percent this year, and the company expects its online sales to exceed $1 billion for the first time.
Gradually more of its female shoppers turned online, and "today about three out of four JCPenney.com customers are women," said spokesman Tim Lyons.
(c) 2005, The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.