AOL Members Spending More Online

DULLES, Va. — Internet shopping boomed in the first three months of 2001, with 70% growth among America Online Inc. members compared with the year earlier, the service provider said.

AOL members spent about $6.7 billion in the first quarter, surpassing the record set during the December 2000 quarter, typically the biggest retail period of the year, when members spent approximately $6.4 billion shopping online.

AOL, a unit of AOL Time Warner Inc. (AOL), is the world’s most popular online service with 29 million subscribers. It offers shopping channels on all of its several foreign services.

Industrywide, online retail sales have been growing rapidly in recent years and were up 66% to about $44.5 billion last year, despite the many casualties in the sector.

A study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group for, a Washington trade association of online retailers, predicts online sales will grow 46% to more than $65 billion.

However, Internet retail sales remain a small, if growing, percentage of the retail industry, representing 1.7% of overall sales in 2000, up from 1.1% in 1999 and expected to jump to 2.5% this year.

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