RESTON, Va. (AP) -- Shoppers bought $20.6 billion online in the first 29 days of the holiday season, a 3% increase from the comparable period last year, according to research company comScore.

The growth rate in online spending is lower than last year, but comScore said that's because Thanksgiving came so late in 2013. Last year's numbers contained a full week of heavy post-Thanksgiving/Cyber Week buying, the company said Sunday in a statement. Thanksgiving fell on Nov. 22 last year. This year's figures didn't include the Monday after Thanksgiving, known as Cyber Monday, named because it's a day when many Americans return to work from the Thanksgiving holiday and start shopping online.

The company compared Nov. 1-29 this year to Nov. 2-30 in 2012. Sales on Thanksgiving Day grew 21% this year to $766 million, compared with last year's $633 million. "The recent trend of kick-starting holiday shopping by opening doors on Thanksgiving Day seems to be having a spillover effect on the online channel," comScore said.

Black Friday online sales grew 15% to nearly $1.2 billion, making it the season's first billion-dollar day and the heaviest online spending day this year, the Reston, Va.-based comScore said.

Apparel and accessories was the leading sales category for the season thus far at 28% of online dollar sales, followed by computer hardware at 19% and consumer electronics at 7%. Apparel nearly doubled its online market share from January through October.


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