Hitwise: Shopping, Classifieds Web Site Visits Up 25.6 Percent

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Shopping and classifieds Web sites generated 9.1 percent of all U.S. Internet visits between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25, according to Internet monitoring service Hitwise.

Traffic to those sites was up 25.6 percent this year versus the year-ago period. Visits peaked on Thanksgiving Day, marking a correlation to holiday shopping patterns observed last year.

"In looking forward to the next holiday season, this repeating pattern provides invaluable insight to marketers in order to maximize their online marketing spend," Hitwise vice president of research Bill Tancer said in a statement.

Hitwise daily data from the 2003 and 2004 holiday seasons show that online traffic peaks occur on weekends. The exceptions are Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Another trend reported by Hitwise was how the market share of visits to largely Internet retailers peaked over a range of days. Visits to the sites of Dell, eBay and Amazon peaked on Dec. 9, 10 and 11, respectively.

By contrast, visits to the online stores of the leading bricks-and-mortar brands -- including walmart.com, BestBuy.com and target.com -- often peaked on Nov. 25, Thanksgiving Day.

This phenomenon, according to Hitwise, was the result of consumers researching online before hitting the physical stores on the heavily-shopped day after Thanksgiving.

Also, visits to the sites of bricks-and-mortar retailers jumped on Christmas Day as visitors considered returns and researched post-Christmas sales.

"Where 2004 differed from 2003 was in the delayed, yet rapid, growth curve leading into Thanksgiving," Tancer said. "Shopping sites increased 26 percent from Nov. 1 to Nov. 24 versus a 6.8 percent increase over the same period in 2003. With the elections, the war in Iraq and mixed economic signals, it appears that consumer uncertainty played some role in that shift."

The National Retail Federation expects the post-Christmas week to account for 10 percent of all multi-channel holiday shopping, including redemption of gift cards, upgraded exchanges and sales-related purchases.

Meanwhile, Amazon said it completed its busiest holiday season in its 10 years of existence. Consumer electronics for the first time overtook books as the largest sales category at the Amazon.com site for the United States.

While Amazon did not disclose the date --pointed out by Hitwise as Nov. 11 for visits -- the Seattle retailer claimed to have set a single-day record with more than 2.8 million units ordered worldwide, or 32 products per second. On the same peak day, Amazon's global fulfillment network shipped more than 2 million units to customers.

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce for DM News.com. To keep up with the latest internet marketing news subscribe to our free weekly e-mail newsletter DM News Daily by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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