Online retailers were hopeful that the online holiday season would be big this year and, according to early reports, they are getting their wish.

According to comScore Networks, Cyber Monday, November 27, more than lived up to expectations. Online sales totaled $608 million, up 26% compared to last year’s Cyber Monday.

In addition, during the first 27 days of November, total online retail spending reached $9.48 billion, which was a 24% increase over the corresponding period in 2005.

"Online consumer spending on Cyber Monday this year reached $608 million, making it the highest single day in retail e-commerce history and the first day ever to break the $600 million threshold," said Gian Fulgoni, chairman of comScore Networks.

comScore predicts even better things to come.

"While it was certainly an historic achievement, the online holiday shopping season is just beginning to kick into high gear," said Mr. Fulgoni. "Having analyzed and reported on online sales for more than five years, we fully expect several days in the coming weeks to eclipse the spending that occurred on Cyber Monday."

Backing that viewpoint up, comScore reported that consumer spending at US retail sites (not including travel) during the first 31 days of the 2006 holiday season to date, which began on November 1, totaled $11.7 billion through December 1, keeping to the 24% increase rate over the corresponding period in 2005.

The surge in spending was all the more surprising in light of a survey from ForeSee Results that showed that customer satisfaction was actually highest over the holiday weekend and dropped on Cyber Monday.

The reason? Cyber Monday shoppers looking for online-only deals were often disappointed when they got to the checkout counter.

"Consumers bought into the hype of Cyber Monday that was advertised and publicized in the media. They were looking for deals, but retail websites didn’t always deliver," said Larry Freed, CEO of ForeSee. "Consumers came to expect discounts and free shipping and many were disappointed when they got to the checkout."

In a strong indication that the holiday buying onrush will continue, however, a new survey from Cowen and Company reports that Internet users expect to buy 39% of their holiday gifts online, an 8% increase over one year ago.