Small Town USA is Connected

Small Town USA is Connected

According to Hitwise, in their third installment of the Hitwise Holiday Shopping Series 2004, online Americans in rural districts were 16 percent more likely than all other social segments to visit a shopping site during the four weeks ending Dec. 4, 2004.

Bill Tancer, Vice President of Research, Hitwise, said "With the holiday shopping season well underway, Internet users in remote, rural segments are taking advantage of the convenience and comprehensiveness of online retailing. Interestingly, the data indicate that this higher propensity of rural Internet users extends across all socioeconomic segments, from the working class to the transplanted elite."

The Hitwise Lifestyle database reports that, while rural Americans accounted for 37.97 percent of total Internet visits in the latest data period, they accounted for 44.23 percent of all visits to shopping sites. According to the data, the four rural social segments that contribute to total shopping traffic include:

- "Middle America" - filled with middle-class homeowners living in small towns and remote suburbs, typically in scenic settings throughout the nation's heartland, and preferring traditional pursuits like fishing, hunting, and antique collecting. (11.85 percent)

- "Country Comfort" - consisting of predominantly white, middle-class homeowners in placid towns and scenic bedroom communities, who enjoy upscale lifestyles. (11.65 percent)

- "Rustic Living" - representing the nation's most isolated towns and rural villages, with relatively modest incomes, low education, aging homes and blue-collar occupations. (10.87 percent)

- "Landed Gentry" - consisting of wealthy Americans who migrated to the smaller boomtowns beyond the nation's beltways. (9.86 percent).

An analysis of the top visited shopping sites by geographic region reveals that many regional brick-and-mortar retailers attract a majority of their sites' visitors from their respective areas. For example, Sam's Club stores are located primarily in the South and Midwest, and 72.5 percent of its site visitors came from Southern and Midwestern states. Costco, Fry's Electronics and Nordstrom all have strong West Coast offline presences, and the bulk of their site visitors came from this region.

"Despite the potential for a national online customer base, numerous brick-and-mortar retailers continue to attract a very high number of their customers locally," said Tancer.

Weekly Holiday Shopping Tracker Data period: week ending Dec. 04, 2004 unless specified

- For the week ending Dec. 4, 2004 U.S Visits to retail websites accounted for 9.43 percent of all Visits to the Internet (an increase of 23.87 percent when compared to the same period a year ago - week ending Dec. 6, 2003).

- Top growing retail categories last week were: Grocery & Alcohol ; Health & Beauty; Books; Classifieds; Apparel & Accessories and Music.

- The fastest growing retail categories versus last year (week ending Dec. 06, 2003) were: Classifieds; Automotive, Auctions, House & Garden and Grocery & Alcohol.

- Retail (9.43 percent) was the third most popular online category after Adult (18.1 percent) and Search Engines and Directories (13.9 percent).

- Of the leading product-related search terms driving traffic to retail Web sites, "playstation 2", "toys", "nintendo ds" and "books" climbed into the top ten.

More information is available at

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