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The holiday season is already off to a solid start, at least on the Internet.

Americans spent $9 billion shopping online during the first three weeks of November, a 13% increase from the same period in 2009, according to a new report from comScore, which tracks Internet data.

More than that, comScore forecasts that consumers will spend a total of $32.4 billion online during November and December, an increase of 11% from the year before. By comparison, consumers spent about $109 billion throughout the other nine months of the year, meaning that the holiday spending should reach nearly a third of the total for this year.

“We are seeing online spending surpass the totals we saw in 2007 prior to the recession and expect sales this holiday season to be the highest on record with more than $32 billion being spent during the November and December period,” said Gian Fulgoni, comScore’s chairman, in a press release.

Other recent reports have predicted modest increases in holiday spending this year, but none have forecast such a drastic increase in online spending.

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Part of the reason for the boom in online shopping seems to be an increase in cyber deals. According to a survey of 500 consumers conducted by comScore, more than a third of shoppers have seen more discounts this year than last. At the same time, nearly half of all online purchases this month included free shipping, which likely served as a further incentive.

Of course, some retailers are still trying to lure customers to their actual stores. Wal-Mart, for example, recently announced that it will match the best prices offered from its competitors on Black Friday, but only if shoppers come into one of their stores.

In general, shopping online does have certain benefits, especially during the holidays, because you can avoid the crowds and take more time to research and compare products before buying them.

However, before you click the purchase button, be sure to follow these steps to ensure that the website you’re using on is secure.

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