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Online sales up in November, traffic down


Online sales have continue to break new records this holiday season even though traffic to top retail sites during November was down compared to the same month the prior year.

Online measurement firm comScore Media Metrix released its top 50 Web properties report for November 2012 and it showed traffic at Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Sears were below prior year levels. The firm showed with 55.8 million unique visitors compared to 58.5 million unique visitors during November 2011. Walmart was ranked 18th on the top 50 list both years. Conversely, 6th ranked was shown to have 116 million unique visitors in November 2012 compared to 112.8 million last year. Walmart was not alone in reporting a decline in web traffic during November. Only three other retailers made the top 50, including Target ranked 28th with 37.3 million unique visitors, Best Buy ranked 31st with 35.7 million unique visitors and Sears ranked 43 with 28.9 million visitors. All three saw a decline from November the prior year when Target had 40.1 million visitors, Best buy had 36.5 million visitors and Sears had 31 million visitors.

Because online sales are well above prior year levels the drop in traffic is explained by the fact that shoppers are even more comfortable purchasing online this year, know exactly what they are looking for and conversion rates have improved.

"Online holiday promotions began in earnest almost as soon as the calendar flipped to November, as retailers hoped to draw in those ambitious early-season shoppers," said Jeff Hackett, EVP of comScore. "As we moved later into the month, the promotional activity surged even higher around Black Friday and Cyber Monday as consumers spent record amounts online. Numerous retail categories saw huge gains for the month, with toys and consumer electronics sites posting the sharpest month-over-month gains."

Retail sites had a near-monopoly on the top-gaining categories chart in November, as the entire category grew 5% to 191 million visitors – representing 87% of the total U.S. online population. Toys ranked as the fastest-growing category with a 30% increase compared to October’s to 23.9 million visitors. Toysrus sites led the category with 12.4 million visitors (up 54%), followed by The LEGO Group with 3.8 million (up 34%), Disney Shopping with 2 million (up 11%), with 1.9 million (up 60%) and Fisher Price with 1.3 million (up 28%).

Consumer Electronics sites were a close second on the top-gaining categories chart, up 29% to 59.7 million visitors. ranked first in the category with 35.1 million visitors (up 90%), followed by Samsung Group with 5.4 million (up 22%) and eBay Electronics U.S. with 5.2 million (up 14%). RadioShack Corporation doubled its traffic base to 4.4 million, while Group Sites rounded out the top five with 4.1 million.

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