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The Electronic Downtown

In California, Skye Ketonen went shopping at her office desk, looking for a lobster gift.

"You can ship lobsters live or you can ship a gift certificate so they don't get a big surprise in a box," said Ketonen.

The surprise is how fast online shopping like this is growing. A new study today shows Internet retail will top $10 billion this year, reports CBS News Correspondent Anthony Mason.

David Pecaut of Boston Consulting Group said, "Online, according to our study is growing by 200 percent a year, which is much greater than anybody thought. It's the fastest growing part of the retail economy."

The top online markets: computer goods, with a billion and half in sales in the first 6 months; followed by travel with $453 million; books and entertainment with $316 million; and auctions with $212 million.

Macy's department store launched an ambitious, expanded site Wednesday offering 250,000 products from its stores online.

Retailers have learned that it pays to get online first.

Pecaut said, "What's happened in the online space is that a few companies have got out early and built commanding positions like Dell in computers, like Schwab in discount retailing, like Amazon in books, so that today 10 companies have more than 50 percent of the sales in the online environment."

Charles Schwab is one of them. Clients of the brokerage house now conduct more than half of their stock trades online.

Online shopping still only makes up 1 percent of all retail sales. But the 16 million online shoppers this year are expected to grow to 60 million by 2002.

Reported by Anthony Mason
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