December 3, 2008, 12:00 AM

Online retail traffic rose 10% year-over-year on Monday, Nielsen reports

Web traffic from and home and businesses to e-retail sites rose 10% on Monday compared to the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2007 to 35.9 million unique visitors, Nielsen Online reports. A separate study by Hitwise, however, showed a small drop in traffic.

Web traffic from and home and businesses to e-retail sites rose 10% on Monday compared to the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2007 to 35.9 million unique visitors, Nielsen Online reports. A separate study by Hitwise, however, showed a slight decrease in traffic.

Nielsen also noted that Monday’s traffic to e-commerce retail sites rose 13% from Friday. Nielsen bases its data on traffic to more than 120 retail web sites in its Holiday eShopping Index, which it says is a representative sampling of online retailers.

“The growth in traffic to online retail sites on Cyber Monday was better than many people expected, making retailers hopeful that this growth will carry through the holiday shopping season,” says Ken Cassar, vice president, industry insights, for Nielsen Online. “The combination of aggressive holiday sales and incentives, such as free shipping, across many of the major retailers is helping drive a large number of consumers online this year.” Cyber Monday is a term initiated by the online retail industry organization to describe the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend.

Nielsen expects Monday, Dec. 15, to be the peak online shopping day in terms of traffic this year, Cassar adds.

Nielsen says led the Holiday eShopping Index with 10.6 million unique visitors, followed by with 9 million and with 5.2 million. Among the top 10 retailers in the index in terms of traffic, Sears showed the largest year-over-year growth at 58%.

The top 10 retailers in terms of Monday’s traffic, with number of unique visitors (in millions) and year-over-year percentage increase or decrease, according to Nielsen:
eBay, 10.56, -2%
Amazon, 9.0, 25%, 5.19, 0%
Target, 3.65, 7%
Best Buy, 3.56, 51%
Sears, 2.68, 58%
Dell, 2.37, -11%
Netflix, 2.05, 42%, 1.65, 19%

Nielsen’s Holiday eShopping Index consists of online retailers divided among 12 categories. The fastest-growing category on Monday in terms of traffic was Beauty, up 151% from a week earlier on Monday, Nov. 24, followed by Toys/Video games, up 112%, and Apparel, up 58%.

The other categories with their percentage increases in traffic are consumer electronics, 49%; Computer hardware/software, 44%; Home and Garden, 40%; Books/Music/Video, 22%; Flowers and Gifts, 21%; Shoes, 13%; Retail, 11%; Shopping comparison sites/portals, 12%. For the Jewelry category, Nielsen showed no change in traffic.

Hitwise, a web-traffic monitoring unit of Experian, noted that the number of U.S. unique visitors among the top 500 most-trafficked retail web sites dropped by 1% year-over-year on Monday. The difference from Nielsen’s reported 10% increase is because of differing data sources and methods of collecting data, a Hitwise spokesman says.

Hitwise bases its data on information collected from Internet service providers on the traffic patterns of about 10 million Internet users, plus information it acquires through consumer panels. Nielsen uses consumer panel surveys and software that tracks Internet traffic. The top 500 retail web sites in terms of traffic (a list compiled by Hitwise from its own data) captured 5.66% of all traffic from Hitwise’s database of consumers, down 1% from a 5.71% share a year ago, Hitwise says. Its report did not verify whether the 1% drop indicated a transfer of web traffic to other web sites outside of the top 500 or simply an overall decline in online visits, the spokesman says.

Hitwise also noted that the number of U.S. visits to the sites of 100 web-only retailers rose 5% year-over-year on Monday, while the number of U.S. visits declined 4% to catalogers’ and store retailers’ web sites and 21% to comparison shopping sites. received the most traffic among the Hitwise top 500 sites, or 10.77% of visits to those sites, followed by with 8.55%, 4.56%, 3.81% and 2.74%, Hitwise says. It also notes that’s traffic on Monday rose 21% over a year ago, while’s rose 6%.

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