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Long live the Web: Online sales top expectations

Hold on tight; the quick ascent of online sales growth doesn't appear to be slowing anytime soon.

According to data released by analytics firm comScore on Wednesday, online spending from desktop computers exceeded "fairly optimistic" expectations over the holidays, raking in $53.3 billion in November and December.

That marks a robust 15 percent increase compared with 2013 totals, and tops the firm's initial forecast for 14 percent growth.

"Despite a shortened holiday calendar between Thanksgiving and Christmas and erroneous reports of flagging holiday sales, the American consumer proved resilient and flexed their spending muscle online this year," comScore Chairman Emeritus Gian Fulgoni said in a release.

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Fulgoni attributed the better-than-expected results to lower gas prices, a more confident consumer and jobs growth. He also noted that online continues to grab share from bricks-and-mortar stores.

Despite reports calling for the beginning of the end of Cyber Monday, as retailers started promotions earlier in November, that day once again ranked as the top spending day of the season, raking in $2.03 billion on desktop, according to comScore. It was the first time in history that a single day's desktop sales topped $2 billion, the firm said.

ComScore has not yet factored mobile sales into its results, but spokesman Adam Lella said it's safe to assume they will add another 1 to 2 percentage points to the overall growth rate. At the start of the season, comScore predicted that mobile sales would grow 25 percent compared with those of the prior year, resulting in 16 percent growth for total digital sales.

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According to a separate report released by IBM earlier this week, total online sales rose 13.9 percent compared to last year. That includes a 27.2 percent mobile sales boost.

Although online sales growth is happening at a quicker rate than at bricks-and-mortar stores, the vast majority of retail purchases are still made in physical stores.