Credit card activity during the pre-Thanksgiving week, considered the first week of the holiday shopping season, shows that consumers are spending about 9% more this year. VISA, which handles more than half of all general purpose payment card transactions in the USA, says its data show that spending in discount stores was up nearly 12%, while department store spending was up about 5% during the week ending November 21st. The first week of the 2003 holiday shopping season also marked a surge in online shopping compared with the same week last year. VISA says spending in the E-commerce channel was up 49% to more than $1.5 billion. The average ticket price of each online purchase was $75.09 versus $66.59 last year. VISA data show that debit card retail spending was $2.5 billion for the week, an 18% jump over the same year-ago period. Credit card retail spending was up 5% to $4.8 billion. VISA noted that the peak shopping day so far was Friday, November 21st with VISA volume topping $3.1 billion.