August 17, 2006, 12:00 AM

Rising gas costs boost online shopping, survey finds

A survey by shopping engine Shopzilla finds that 11% of consumers surveyed report increasing online purchases substantially and 23% somewhat more in response to rising gas prices.

Fuel prices stand to figure into consumers’ holiday shopping plans this year, with data from a survey conducted by shopping engine Shopzilla in late July showing that despite rising gas costs, many consumers won’t travel far to find cheaper fuel. Nearly one fifth of online shoppers queried in late July-18%-said they would not travel out of their way to buy cheap gas, 20% said they’d travel only up to one mile to find cheaper fuel.

If shoppers won’t travel to find less costly gas, that could spell opportunity for online shopping in Q4 by increasing the rate of online shopping among consumers. Shopzilla found that 34% of online shoppers surveyed have shopped online more in order to save gas costs associated with going out to shop retail stores. That includes 11% who have shopped online “a lot more” in efforts to save on fuel costs, and 23% who say they’ve shopped online “somewhat more” for the same reason.

Shopzilla`s survey found that rising gas costs are not affecting the shopping behavior of about two-thirds of online shoppers surveyed, with 66% reporting that their online versus offline shopping habits are “about the same” as when gas prices are lower.

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