AOL, Others Report 'Banner Year' For E-Commerce

America Online Inc., the world's largest Internet access provider, says its members spent $2.5 billion online during the holiday season, double the amount spent a year earlier. AOL, based in Dulles, Va., says two-thirds of its 20 million members are now shopping online, and that 2.5 million members made their first online purchases during the year-end holiday season. Other top online sites also reported booming business during the holiday shopping season. Media Metrix Inc., the New York-based company that monitors usage on the World Wide Web, said that traffic to Internet shopping sites increased by 27% in the final week of the holiday shopping season. For the five-week period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the sites receiving the most traffic were Amazon.com Inc., eBay Inc., and eToys Inc. Amazon.com saw 5.7 million different users during the period, while eBay saw 4 million, and eToys 1.7 million, Media Metrix said. "All in all, 1999 was a banner year for holiday-related e-commerce," says Doug McFarland, Media Metrix senior vice president and general manager. "We consistently found major gains overall since last year on a week-to-week comparison," McFarland says. AOL says the average user of its shopping services spent $300 online in goods and services this holiday season, up 50% from 1998. The company says the top shopping categories included lingerie, toys, mobile electronics, movies and music, and athletic shoes and apparel.

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