March 25, 2013, 6:45 PM

Amazon is the most-visited online retailer in Europe

The retailer had 26.4 million unique European visitors in December, comScore reports.

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Amazon.com Inc., which is North America’s largest online retailer, is the largest in Europe—at least according to unique online visitors, according to a new comScore Inc. report. That finding matches the finding in Internet Retailer’s Top 400 Europe that found that Amazon dominates European e-commerce.

In December 26.4 million Europeans visited Amazon’s European sites from computers, about the same as a year earlier, making it the most visited e-retailer in Europe. The retailer had 6.6 million unique mobile visitors, 87% more than 3.5 million a year earlier.

Home Retail Group, No. 6 in the Top 400 Europe, had 13.3 million unique visitors in December, making it the second-most visited European retail site. The home and general merchandise chain retailer’s traffic was up 5% from December 2011. It also had 2.4 million unique mobile visitors, an 80% increase from 1.3 million a year earlier.

The report, “2013 Europe Digital in Focus,” is based on comScore’s measurement of web site traffic by European consumers among its panel of 2 million global online consumers as well as data gathered from web servers.

More Europeans are going online, the report finds. It estimates that 408.3 million consumers in Europe used their desktop computer to access the Internet in December, up 7% compared with a year earlier. And it says Turkey has the youngest desktop Internet users in Europe, with nearly 70% of web users under 35 years old.

Russia has the largest online audience in Europe with 61.3 million web users, or 15% of Europe’s total of 408.3 million, comScore says. The research firm also notes that, after Italy, Russia has Europe’s second-fastest growing online population, up 15% from about 53.3 million in December 2011. In addition, Russia’s online population of 61.3 million is about 43% of its total population of about 143 million, according to the latest estimates of Russia’s total population posted online by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook. By comparison, Italy’s Internet audience grew the fastest in Europe in December 2012 compared with a year earlier, increasing 17% from 24.5 million to 28.7 million web users, or about 47% of its total population of about 61.5 million.

More European consumers are carrying mobile devices that can access the web, the research also shows. An average of 57% of mobile phone owners living in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom owned a smartphone for the three months ending in December 2012. Spain had the highest percentage of smartphone owners with 66% of mobile phone owners carrying smartphones and the U.K. came in second at 64%. December 2012 marked the first time that more than half of mobile phone owners in those five European countries owned smartphones.

Those smartphone-touting consumers are accessing videos on their devices more often, comScore finds. While the amount of consumers in those five countries using a desktop computer to access video on the web grew 5% in  December 2012 compared to December 2011, the number of mobile video viewers jumped 162%.

Across those five European countries, Samsung leads as the top smartphone handset manufacturer, with 32% market share, followed by Apple Inc. with 21%. Google offers the leading operating system, accounting for 50% of smartphones, followed by Apple’s smartphone operating system with a market share of 20%.

“European consumers are more digitally-engaged than ever before and their use of mobile, Internet-enabled devices is redefining the media landscape,” says Paul Goode, chief advisor of industry relations for comScore in Europe. “Advertisers, agencies and media owners need to understand the rising number of multi-platform consumers and the more complex digital ecosystem that has developed over the past years. Insights about key trends and underlying drivers enable clients to manage their digital investments effectively.”

Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Europe.

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