America Online saw plenty of holiday cheer this past month, according to sales figures released today. AOL reports that its members spent over $1 billion with AOL retailers during the six weeks of the 1998 holiday shopping season. Over one million AOL members were shopping online for the first time.
The figures are based on research produced for America Online by the Internet Research Group (IRG), an independent research firm based in Radnor, Pennsylvania. According to the study, Thursday, December 17, was the heaviest shopping day of the season, generating over $36 million in sales of consumer goods and travel-related services.
AOL’s figures are consistent with other early reports of the 1998 online holiday shopping season. A recent Boston Consulting Group study found that online holiday sales had jumped 230% over last year. Zona Research, Inc. today released its own figures, showing online holiday spending by Internet users rose from an average of $216 last year to $629 in 1998, a leap of 191%. Approximately 58% of the sampled buyers reported they spent nothing online in 1997.
Customer satisfaction appears to be running high as well, with 63% of AOL’s online shoppers saying they were “very satisfied” with their online experience, while 38% reported they were “satisfied.” An overwhelming number of AOL’s shoppers — 98% — said they would be “very likely” or “likely” to buy online again in the next six months.
“It’s clear that this past holiday shopping season marks a turning point — when shopping online really became a key part of consumers’ shopping patterns,” said Bob Pittman, AOL’s president and chief operating officer.
AOL’s philanthropic efforts were also successful this holiday season, with more than $100,000 raised to support Share Our Strength, a national anti-hunger and anti-poverty organization. The campaign will continue through January 31.
America Online, based in Dulles, Virginia, operates both America Online and CompuServe.