comScore (NASDAQ: SCOR), an internet marketing research company, said it expects online shopping to increase by 11 percent this holiday season.

Through the first 21 days of the November-December gift-buying period, $9.01-billion has been spent online, a 13 percent gain over the comparable period from last year.

“The beginning of the online holiday shopping season has gotten off to an extremely positive start, outperforming our earlier expectations,” said comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni.

“Despite continued high unemployment rates and other economic concerns, consumers seem to be more willing to open up their wallets this holiday season than last. While this early spending surge reflects, in part, heavy promotional activity on the part of retailers occurring earlier this season, it is nevertheless a very encouraging sign.”

Overall, comScore forecasts that online retail spending will reach $32.4-billion, an 11 percent increase from last year.

Fulgoni commented that “we are seeing online spending surpass the totals we saw in 2007 prior to the recession and expect sales this holiday season to be the highest on record.”

According to comScore, Cyber Monday from last year reached $887 million, up 5 percent from the previous year and matching the record for the heaviest online spending day on record — Dec. 9, 2008.This year that figure is expected to reach at least $900-million.

Online sales account for about 8 percent of the total retail business, comScore noted.

Separately, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that almost nine out of ten retailers plan to run special promotions for Cyber Monday, underscoring the increased importance of the Monday after Thanksgiving to holiday retail sales.

According to the eHoliday Survey of Shop.org (a division of NRF), 88.2 percent of retailers will have promotions for Cyber Monday, up from 72.2 percent in 2007.

Specifically, almost half (49.0 percent) of companies will offer specific deals (up from 42.9 percent last year) and many are planning one-day sales (41.2 percent vs. 32.9 percent last year) and free shipping on all purchases (21.6 percent vs. 15.7 percent last year).

Moreover, the majority of retailers (62.7 percent) will send promotions and deals to shoppers through a special email.

“Today, Cyber Monday has become such a crucial component of the holiday season that many retailers – and shoppers – don’t remember the holidays without it,” said Joan Broughton, Interim Executive Director of Shop.org.

Also, according to the survey, 54.5 percent of workers with Internet access, or 70.1 million people, will shop for holiday gifts from the office this year.