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Christmas sales and travel spark shoppers’ online interest

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Boxing Day was the biggest online shopping day of 2011 with 96m visits to retail websites, according to Experian Hitwise.

The organisation, which provides online competitive intelligence, says the data behind the latest IMRG-Experian Hitwise Hot Shops List shows consumers spent 343m hours shopping online in December and went on to shop the January sales.

Experian Hitwise marketing research analyst James Murray said: “As with Christmas 2010 there is still a gap between multichannel retailers and online-only retailers. For the last three years multichannel retailers like Next, Argos and John Lewis have consistently received more traffic than the online-only specialists like Amazon and Play.com. However, some online-only brands are starting to level the playing field, as witnessed by the rise of ASOS, LoveFilm.com and the specialist travel brands in the rankings.”

The list showed Amazon UK kept its top-table position, followed by Argos, back in its number two slot after being temporarily displaced by third-placed Apple following the death of Steve Jobs in the last, November, edition of the list. Amazon.com and Tesco make up the top five in the list.

The five fastest movers were all travel brands, with First Choice up 37 places, alongside fellow climbers Thomas Cook (+23), TravelRepublic.co.uk (+20), Thomson (+15) and Expedia (+12), who benefitted as travel bookings rose in January, a seasonal peak for the industry.

Electricals and furniture and home improvements-related retailers benefitted from strong online shopping in the January sales. Currys, IKEA and PC World all jumped six places in the Hot Shops list since last quarter, while Homebase and Comet were also among this quarter’s rising websites.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, said: “These figures are consistent with what we’re seeing from the IMRG Capgemini Index, where sales in January for the travel sector were up 16% year-on-year, following what was a challenging year in 2011 for the online travel industry.

“The story is similar for the electronics retailers as well, where growth levels remained below average for the e-retail sector throughout 2011 but returned to fairly steady double-digit growth toward the end of the year.

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