RealTime IT News

The Long and Winding Down Road

Many online consumers shopped early if not often as visitor traffic to e-commerce sites began to wind down in the week before Christmas, according to figures from Web measurement firm Media Metrix.

In fact, about 31.8 million unique visitors went to online retail sites during the week before Christmas (ending Dec. 24), a decrease of 10.9 percent from the holiday season's peak of 35.6 million unique visitors, which came during the week ending Dec. 3, the company said.

Compared to the same week last year, however, the Media Metrix Online Shopping Index -- which aggregates Web visitors from both home and work to nearly 400 retail sites and 18 retail subcategories -- was up by 28.4 percent.

"The drop in visitors to retail sites during the final days of the shopping season comes as no surprise in light of last year's pattern as well as this season's early peak in retail traffic," said Anne Rickert, measurement analyst at Media Metrix.

But exceptions prove the rules, and this year was no different. Rickert said that "online shoppers flocked to sites offering last-minute gift-giving alternatives such as online holiday cards and online gift currency. Flooz.com, Americangreetings.com, Egreetings.com and Hallmark.com were among the week's top 10 sites with the largest increases in traffic."

Traffic to retail sites was down each day of the week before Christmas compared to the prior week, with unique visitors down 2.9 percent on Monday, Dec. 18 compared to the prior Monday, and down 31.0 percent on Sunday, Dec. 24 compared to the prior Sunday.

Amazon.com and Mypoints.com remained the top two retail sites, with 1.3 million and 1.2 million average daily unique visitors, respectively, according to Media Metrix. Americangreetings.com moved up four places to claim the No. 3 spot, growing 83.0 percent since the prior week to 745,000 average daily unique visitors.

Fourth was half.com, followed in order by webstakes.com, egreetings.com, bizrate.com, CDNow.com, mcafee.com and dell.com.

Books sites and computer sites were the top two retail subcategories with 2.0 million and 1.9 million average daily unique visitors, respectively. Flowers/gifts/greetings sites followed closely behind with 1.8 million average daily unique visitors.