January 18, 2005, 12:00 AM

Holiday activity drives web traffic in December, comScore finds

Holiday traffic upped visits to seasonally-related sites in December. They accounted for 8 of the 10 categories that experienced the greatest traffic increase over November and 9 of the top-10 gaining properties.


Holiday-related visits dominated web traffic in December, according the figures released by comScore Networks Inc., with seasonal sites representing 8 of the top 10 gaining properties and 9 of the top 10 gaining categories. Overall, more than 132 million consumers, or 4 of every 5 online consumers in the U.S., visited retail sites and resources in December, according to ComScore.

Holiday-related visits ranged from those to sites for shopping online, to sites for sending e-cards and tracking packages, comScore notes. Specifically, 5 of the top-10 gaining categories for the month were retail subcategories. The traffic in the fastest gainer among these–jewelry, luxury goods and accessories–jumped 30% over November and 15% over December of 2003. Within the subcategory, traffic to the individual properties of Coach.com, BlueNile.com and Zales.com each grew 70% or more over November.

In December, traffic to sites in the department stores category grew 20% over the previous month. Within the department stores category, traffic to Walmart.com rose 37% over the previous month. With 32 million visitors in December, Walmart.com was the third most-visited retail property, behind eBay and Amazon. Other leaders in the department stores category included Kmart, where traffic rose 49% over the previous month; May Department Stores, up 42%; and Federated Department Stores, up 35%.

Visits to e-card sites boosted traffic in both the e-cards and flowers, gifts and greetings categories. 48 million Americans visited e-card sites in December. The flowers, gifts and greetings category rose 25%, lead by increased traffic to sites including RedEnvelope.com and Proflowers.com. Traffic to 1-800-Flowers.com rose 44% in November over December.

Visits to shipping sites such as UPS.com drove traffic up by 31% in the shipping category as shoppers went online to track packages. Traffic to UPS.com and USPS.com, the two largest sites in the category, gained 49% and 40%, respectively, in December over November.

Despite major traffic increases to retail sites, web-wide, the property that saw the greatest traffic increase from November to December was not retail-related. Fueled by a false rumor that telemarketers would shortly begin calling the cell phones of individuals who hadn`t listed those numbers on the federal government`s Do Not Call registry, more than 7 million people visited DoNotCall.gov in December to register their numbers–an increase of more than 300%.


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