Online Holiday Traffic Up Despite Mixed Reviews

The latest figures released by Internet measurement service Media Metrix (Nasdaq: MMXI) show that that this year’s holiday e-commerce traffic is up 37 percent over last year, with reigning king Amazon.com leading the way again.

The figures released by the New York-based company today also reveal a six percent drop-off in online shopping this week, as shoppers heed the warnings that last-minute buying will result in an empty space under the Christmas tree and a gift in transit.

Online shoppers are becoming increasingly savvy about the delivery end of e-commerce transactions, the report shows. Media Metrix said that traffic to both UPS.com and Fedex.com — the two major shippers — was up significantly this week as shoppers track the status of their packages.

Less Than Anticipated?

Given the astronomical increases usually associated with Internet commerce, the 37 percent figure conveyed by Media Metrix might be disappointing to some industry participants and observers.

Executives at Amazon are likely pleased with what they see, however. The e-tailing behemoth averaged over six million unique visitors weekly over the four-week shopping period beginning after Thanksgiving. Last year, Amazon averaged 3.6 million visitors a week, giving it a 94 percent boost this year.

Online auction site eBay ranked behind Amazon with nearly 4.2 million weekly unique visitors, up 84 percent over last year’s 2.3 million average.

Leading the second tier of e-commerce sites is eToys, which averaged 1.95 million visitors, up from 1.1 million visitors in 1998. Toysrus.com registered 1.7 million visitors, a whopping 373 percent more than last year’s total, while barnesandnoble rounds out the top five with 1.6 million visitors, up from last year’s 1.5 million.

For the week, Enews.com showed the largest gain over the three previous weeks, jumping 161 percent. Americangreetings.com followed behind with an 88 percent gain. Media Metrix noted that flowers, gifts and greetings sectors were collectively up nearly 10 percent as Christmas approaches.

Shoppers Give Online Thumbs Up

Shoppers are generally giving the e-shopping experience good grades. Wednesday, Internet market researcher @plan (Nasdaq: APLN) released a poll of online shoppers that tilted favorably toward the industry.

The Stamford, Connecticut-based company surveyed 1,000 American adults and found that 83 percent (compared to 13 percent) judged e-commerce shopping to be more convenient that traditional shopping, 59 percent (compared to 31 percent) said they found the best prices on the Web, 58 percent (compared to 35 percent) found the ability to comparison shop favorable and 58 percent (compared to 31 percent) said they could find what they were looking for.

In two categories, however, online shopping received failing grades. Some 60 percent (compared to 25 percent) felt that traditional shopping offered better customer service, while 49 percent (compared to 20 percent) said that credit card security was better in traditional outlets.

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