SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - It's shaping up to be a very merry holiday
season for online retailers.
Web shopping got off and running for the busiest season of the year
with traffic up 60 percent for the week ended Nov. 14 from the prior
seven-day period, Nielsen//NetRatings said on Tuesday.
The share of Internet traffic going to shopping sites already has
surpassed last year's high, set on Thanksgiving Day, Internet traffic
monitoring company Hitwise said.
"As Black Friday approaches, shoppers are flocking online to research
holiday gifts, comparison shop, and look at the vast array of products
available," said Heather Dougherty, senior retail analyst at
Black Friday, the day after the Thursday's U.S. Thanksgiving holiday,
is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year.
U.S. consumers are expected to spend $16.7 billion online during
the holiday months of November and December, an increase of 29 percent
from the year-earlier period, according to research firm eMarketer.
Meanwhile, total U.S. holiday retail sales are seen rising 4.5 percent
to $219.9 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.
"Online shopping appears to be occurring earlier and in greater force
than last year," said Bill Tancer, vice president of research at
"If last year is any indication, we're likely to see weekly shopping
levels increase with a peak roughly a week before Christmas," Tancer
Nielsen//NetRatings, an Internet audience research firm, which
unveiled its sixth annual Holiday eShopping Index on Tuesday, said
home and garden, books/music/video, and toys and video games led Web
shopping traffic growth.
The home and garden category saw weekly traffic soar 88 percent, as
sites run by Home Depot Inc. and Pottery Barn saw traffic increases of
159 percent and 97 percent, respectively.
Visits to books/music/video sites were up 87 percent, fueled in part
by a 233 percent increase in visits to No. 2 online bookseller
The toys and video games category was up 85 percent as traffic to
KBToys.com skyrocketed 276 percent and EBgames.com soared 210 percent.
Apparel, another key category for holiday sales where retailers garner
a bulk of annual sales, saw a 75 percent increase as the Gap Inc.'s
online traffic rose 245 percent and Lands' End increased 68 percent.
Shopping comparison/portals rounded out the five fastest growing
categories in the index with a 73 percent increase. Within the
category, Yahoo Shopping's traffic grew 174 percent while MySimon's
jumped 133 percent.
Hitwise said that the 13 leading comparison-shopping sites claimed 5
percent of all shopping visits last week. Half of that traffic come
directly from major search engines and directories like Google and
Tancer said that marked "a new era in online shopping."
"Users are becoming more sophisticated in their online purchase
behaviors, clearly demonstrating the willingness to use
comparison-shopping sites to find the best product at the best price,"
The most-visited comparison-shopping sites last week were Yahoo
Shopping, Shopzilla's BizRate.com and newly public Shopping.com,
according to Hitwise.
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