Some early returns for online holiday shopping are in, and the results look promising.

Online shoppers spent an average of $72 apiece in the week ended Nov. 15, up 28% from the same time in 2001, according to the first findings of a report compiled by Goldman Sachs, Harris Interactive and Nielsen//Netratings.

The results from the 2002 eSpending Report signal good news for such online retailers as

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

,

eBay

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,

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

and

AOL Time Warner

(AOL)

.

The numbers, limited as they are, are also a bit more scientific than other gauges of the seasonal online retail market, particularly Amazon's third annual holiday season Delight-O-Meter, which registers how many items have been ordered on Amazon domains worldwide since Nov. 1. As of Monday night, that number had climed to 20.9 million.

The companies credited the uptick to greater consumer satisfaction with online shopping and a shorter shopping season -- in part because of a Hanukkah that starts soon after Thanksgiving this year, more than a week earlier on the solar calendar than last year's Festival of Lights.

The percentage of the online population that made a purchase this first week was 14%, up from 12% last year, according to Lori Iventosch-James, director of ecommerce research for Harris Interactive. The estimated population online in the U.S. grew from 130 million people last year to 136 million this year, she said.

As for trends in shopping, the survey hints at a slight increase in apparel spending online, says Iventosch-James, benefiting off-line retailers such as

Gap

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. In addition, it appears that shoppers are spending a greater percentage of their shopping budget online, she says, at the expense of retail stores rather than cataloguers.