December saw increased traffic to retail sites, and gains for shipping and weather properties, as Americans pursued bargains and deals online, sent and waited for packages, and considered travel conditions, according to the monthly analysis of US online consumer activity from comScore Media Metrix (via MarketingCharts.
Retail Sites Realize Seasonal Traffic Gains
Despite soft online holiday sales, December traffic to retail sites grew as consumers searched for holiday gifts and discounts. Retail - Jewelry/Luxury Goods/Accessories surged 30% to 25 million visitors and ranked as the top-gaining category for the month.
Retail – Sports/Outdoor sites also posted strong growth for the month increasing 24% to more than 38 million visitors. The top 10 sites in the category all witnessed double-digit increases, including DicksSportingGoods.com (up 57% to 4.8 million visitors) and SportsAuthority.com (up 61% to 3.3 million visitors).
Other retail categories among the top-ten included Retail - Music (up 24% to 26 million visitors), Retail - Flowers/Gifts/Greeting (up 17% to 45.7 million visitors) and Retail - Computer Software (up 14% to 30.2 million visitors).
"The holiday shopping season continued to be the main driver of online activity in December, with retail sites being the primary beneficiaries," said Jack Flanagan, EVP of comScore Media Metrix.
"While enticing discounts and incentives were enough to attract holiday shoppers to browse online, consumers did not open their wallets as they have in past years as online sales declined three percent vs. last year amid the tougher economic climate."
Shipping Sites Surge on Rush to Send Holiday Gifts
Traffic to shipping sites climbed 27% to nearly 40 million visitors in December as Americans raced to ensure delivery of their packages in time for the holidays. The category was led by UPS Sites with 21.6 million visitors (up 47% from the previous month), which also ranked as one of the top-gaining properties in December. The US Post Office’s site, USPS.com, captured the second position with 16.6 million visitors (up 28%), followed by FedEx with 13.4 million visitors (up 38%).
Severe Conditions Drive Visitors to Weather Sites
Wintry weather blasted the country in December, resulting in travel delays and cancellations, according to comScore. Consequently, the Weather category grew 17% to 76.8 million visitors as Americans chased weather updates. The Weather Channel led the category with 41.5 million visitors (up 28%), followed by Weatherbug Property with 27.1 million visitors (up 10%), and Yahoo Weather with 14.3 million visitors (up 36%).
Top 50 Properties
Google Sites, which now reach nearly 80% of online Americans, continued to lead as the most visited property in December with 149 million visitors, followed by Yahoo Sites with 145.7 million visitors and Microsoft Sites with 125.4 million visitors.
Facebook and Apple Inc. climbed two spots to #11 and #12, respectively. The holiday shopping season caused sharp increases at several retail-related properties including Shopzilla.com Sites (up six spots to #27), Best Buy Sites (up 10 spots to #30), and JCPenney Sites (up eight spots to #42).
Top 50 Ad Focus Ranking
Platform-A led the December Ad Focus ranking, reaching 91% of the 190.7 million Americans online, comScore reported. Yahoo Network ranked second, reaching 87%, while ValueClick Networks captured the third position with an 84% reach. Adconion Media Group moved up three spots in the ranking to #9, Amazon.com moved up three spots to #37, and ITN Digital Networks - Potential Reach moved up five spots to #40.