Online Shopping Bouncing Back Slowly
Despite unyielding economic uncertainties, retail Web sites experienced a surge in activity as Americans began their holiday shopping in November, according to new data from comScore.
Among the top-gaining retail subcategories were toys, consumer electronics, and department stores -- each growing more than 30% versus October, according to comScore.
Toys sites attracted 27.4 million Americans during the month, representing a 33% increase from the previous month. Toysrus Sites led the category with more than 14.8 million visitors -- up 82% -- ranking as the fourth-top-gaining property in November. The LEGO Group grabbed the Number 2 position in the Toys category with 3.8 million visitors -- up 12%, followed by Disney Shopping with 2.6 million -- up 29% -- and AmericanGirl.com with 1.9 million -- up 44%.
"November marks the official start of the holiday shopping season as millions of Americans search for gifts and deals both online and in stores," said Jack Flanagan, executive vice president of comScore Media Metrix. "With nearly 4 out of 5 Americans online visiting a retail site during November, the Internet clearly represents an increasingly important channel for retailers during the holiday season and beyond."
Meanwhile, consumer electronics sites grew to 52.8 million visitors during the month, a 32% increase versus October, led by BestBuy.com with nearly 25 million visitors and Walmart Electronics with 9.9 million visitors -- up 139%. Radioshack Corporation grabbed the Number 3 position with 5.1 million visitors, followed closely by eBay Electronics U.S. with 4.8 million visitors -- up 12% -- and Buy.com with 4.4 million visitors -- up 11%.
Online Department Stores also saw a 33% gain, reaching nearly 81 million unique visitors in November. Walmart.com led the category with 46.2 million visitors -- up 62%; followed by Target Corporation with 38.8 million -- up 43%; Sears.com with more than 19 million -- up 36%; JCPenney Sites with 15.4 million -- up 34%; and Macy's Inc. with 12.7 million -- up 38%.
With many Americans cutting back on spending this year, incentives and coupon sites experienced significant growth in November. Traffic to incentive sites jumped 76% during the month, attracting 27.6 million unique visitors, making this the top-gaining category for the month.
Coupon sites ranked as the Number 3 top-gaining category in November, growing 33% to 37.5 million visitors. Coupons held the leading position with more than 8 million visitors -- up 9%, followed by EverSave.com with 5.3 million visitors and RetailMeNot with 5.1 million -- up 43%.
BlackFriday.info, meanwhile, experienced a massive surge in activity, increasing more than 1,000% to 5 million visitors, as shoppers prepared for Black Friday. GottaDeal.com saw traffic surge 955% to 1.8 million.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday helped drive online spending in November, which saw online spending increase 10% versus year ago to reach nearly $12.3 billion in sales.
"Of course, we need to recognize that the comparison is against a very weak November 2008, which suffered from the economic crises of a year ago," notes comScore.
The online shopping season kicked off early this year, with online retailers aggressively communicating their discounts and promotional offers well ahead of Thanksgiving. The result was that Black Friday -- November 27 and the traditional kickoff day to the offline holiday shopping season -- achieved $595 million in online sales, an 11% increase versus Black Friday 2008.
Cyber Monday -- November 30 and the traditional kickoff day for the online holiday shopping season -- reached $887 million in online spending, up 5% versus year ago, as Americans returned to work and turned to the Internet for holiday purchases and exclusive online offers. Over 50% of all online purchases on Cyber Monday were made from work computers.
In November, Google Sites led the U.S. core search market in November with 65.6% of the search queries conducted, up marginally from October. Google was followed by Yahoo sites with a 17.5% share -- down 0.5 points from October -- and Microsoft sites at 10.3 percent -- an increase of 0.4 points from October. Ask Network, meanwhile, captured 3.8% of the search market, followed by AOL with 2.8%.