E*Trade (NYSE:ET) is the latest discount broker to report some pretty whizbang data about its trading business in January. Not only are its daily average revenue trades higher by 39% for the month -- its heaviest amount of trading in three years -- but it's signing up an impressive number of new accounts, too.

Several weeks ago, Ameritrade (NASDAQ:AMTD) described a record-breaking January, during which it said it broke its record for average daily trades with its new number: 254,000.

When it comes to the new blood, E*Trade said it added 62,473 gross new brokerage accounts, 64.5% more than the number it added this time last year. Meanwhile, Ameritrade's not slacking in that department either, having added 45,000 total new accounts last month, a 50% rise from the number of new accounts it added in Jan. 2003 and the highest it's clocked since March 2001. (Of course, it's still a far cry from the 137,000 new accounts Ameritrade added in March 2000.)

Some of the new accounts surely relate to customer churn, as people compare the services they receive with different brokerage firms, and jump ship accordingly. (Fool Rick Munarriz's Don't Get Blindsided by Your Broker outlines the pros and cons of a whole slew of discount brokers.)

Meanwhile, with the stock market rockin', it goes without saying that the competition's steep for your business, and at some point, when everybody and their grandmother is trading, consolidation will continue. TD Waterhouse's jilting by E*Trade is still very much on people's minds, and, of course, Ameritrade swallowed up rival Datek in 2002.

Some new accounts truly are new accounts. Meaning, those who didn't participate in the last bull market have decided they'll be darned if they're missing out on this one. Here at the Fool, we love self-directed investors who know that with the right education they don't need a full-service brokerage. So, if you're about to be a new account holder, check out the Fool's Broker Center -- but not before reading, among other things, 13 Steps to Investing Foolishly.

E*Trade said that it sees earnings coming in at the high end of expectations, just as Ameritrade upped its guidance over the robust trading volumes. Shares of the discount retailers, including rival Charles Schwab (NYSE:SCH), were all up pretty modestly in recent trading. After displaying amped-up numbers like these for a while and then being met with such stock-price enthusiasm, it seems high time for a little rest.

Charles Schwab is one of David Gardner's Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Check it out, risk-free, for six months.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.