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 Inc., eBay Inc., and eToys Inc. 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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