February 12, 2008, 12:00 AM

Department stores score highest in ShopLocal Index of web promotion views

For January, department stores led the ShopLocal Index of online promotional activity by retail stores with a 65% year-to-year increase in the number of web site page views, compared to 20% for all stores in the index, ShopLocal says.

For January, department stores led the ShopLocal Index of online promotional activity by retail stores with a 65% year-to-year increase in the number of web site page views, compared to 20% for all stores in the index, ShopLocal says.

The ShopLocal Index is based on the online activity of an average of 20 million monthly consumer visits to online store promotions presented on the web sites of 50 major U.S. retailers, including J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Best Buy Co. Inc., Walgreen Co. and The Home Depot. The index measures consumer activity on online promotions run on ShopLocal’s SmartCircular technology.

The 20% year-to-year rise in January page views to the online promotions of all stores in the index was down from the 36% increase the index recorded for January 2007 over January 2006, ShopLocal says.

In addition to department stores, other store categories showing better-than-average increases in January page views of online promotions include grocers, 29%; drugstores, 28%; mass merchants, 27%, and office supplies, 24%.

But several other store categories came in under the 20% average, including some with negative growth: consumer electronics, 15%; specialty stores, -24%, and home improvement stores, -26%.

Overall, stores in the index compiled 232 million promotional page views in January, up 20% from 193 million a year earlier, ShopLocal says.

At the same time, however, the overall 20% increase in promotional page views recorded by the index coincided with a far smaller rise in overall retail store sales, indicating that shoppers were hunting for bargains online but not always matching that activity with in-store purchases, a ShopLocal spokeswoman says. Total store retail sales grew 2.6% in January 2008 over January 2007, according to ShopperTrak RCT Corp.’s National Retail Sales Estimate.

“We believe this month’s index reflects a combination of the consumer’s hesitation in shopping and their stronger value orientation,” says Vikram Sharma, CEO of ShopLocal. “Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about using the Internet to find deals as retailers shift more of their advertising online.”

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