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

“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.,, and 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. and remained the top two retail sites, with 1.3
million and 1.2 million average daily unique visitors, respectively,
according to Media Metrix. 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, followed in order by,,,, and

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.

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