Online Retailers Gain Market Share On Thanksgiving

With brick-and-mortar stores closed on Thanksgiving, online users turned to e-commerce stores in record proportions, according to new data released by research company Hitwise.

On Thanksgiving Day, Hitwise's index of 100 top online retailers accounted for 4.3851 percent of Web visits, compared to 4.2849 percent of Web visits on Black Friday.

Overall, top online retailers saw market share of Thanksgiving Day traffic grow by around 18.8 percent from 2004, while the proportion of visits to those sites on Black Friday grew by 20.9 percent year-over-year, according to Hitwise. Rival research company Nielsen//NetRatings also issued a bullish report, which found that traffic to retail sites on Black Friday surged by 29 percent from last year.

Hitwise stated that eBay accounted for the largest proportion--16.2 percent--of online retail traffic on Thanksgiving Day, while Wal-Mart came in second, with 4.85 percent. E-commerce powerhouse Amazon lagged in third place, with 2.8 percent of online traffic.

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For the entire week, however, Amazon accounted for a marginally greater share of e-commerce traffic than did Wal-Mart (3.03 percent compared to 2.99 percent), according to Hitwise. Nielsen//NetRatings also reported that on Black Friday, Amazon drew more visitors than Walmart.com (4.6 million vs. 3.4 million).

While Wal-Mart is known for its low prices, the store's Web site recently began offering luxury goods such as diamond jewelry. The Washington Post reported this weekend that Walmart.com sold out of a $992 one-carat engagement ring less than two days after it appeared on the site.

Separately, Visa USA stated that e-commerce spending shot past $2.2 billion for the week ending Sunday, marking an increase of 30.3 percent from the same week in 2004.

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