NEW YORK: Online consumer spending in the US fell by 3% over the Christmas holiday period to a total of $25.5 billion (€18.4bn; £17.7bn), down on $26.3bn from the same period in 2007, reports web measurement specialist comScore.

These figures constitute the first overall decline since comScore started tracking consumers' online Christmas holiday outlay in 2001, as the downturn (and a late Thanksgiving) led consumers to cut back on spending.

Among the big retailers to see total online traffic levels drop were JCPenney, where unique user numbers fell by 11% to 18.9 million, Toys 'R' Us, down 9% to just over 18m, and Circuit City, whose unique user total fell by 21% to 15.5m.

Online auction site eBay registered the highest audience in December, at 85.4m, but saw its unique user figures dip by 4%.

By contrast, user numbers for Apple's website rose by 19% to 35m in December, with online retail giant Amazon also up 7% to 76.2m.

Discount retail chains also fared well, with Wal-Mart seeing its online figures improve by 4% to 51.5m, and Sear's website traffic up 2% to 18.4m users.

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff