Double-digit increases are alive and well on the Web.

This story first appeared in the December 29, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

While broadline retailers struggled to top their November 2008 sales figures last month in their brick-and-mortar stores, many of their e-commerce sites enjoyed tidings of comfort and joy as the holiday season began in earnest.

Department store e-commerce sites scored the fifth largest increase in unique visitors in November compared with October, rising 29.9 percent to 80.9 million from 62.2 million the prior month, according to a report released Monday by comScore Inc., which specializes in the measurement of digital traffic and purchasing. Overall in e-commerce, there was a 1.5 percent increase in “uniques” to 201.14 billion from 198.22 billion in October.

E-commerce sites offering jewelry, accessories and luxury goods had the ninth largest increase, up 15.2 percent to 17.7 million visitors.

ComScore’s definition of department stores included multiline discounters such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. In fact, Wal-Mart’s Web sites scored among the top 10 gains in month-over-month visitors, bounding 55.1 percent to 49.3 million from 31.8 million in the prior month.

Kohl’s Corp. did even better, registering the largest increase in unique visitors of all retailers focused on apparel — a 59.1 percent rise to 12.2 million from 7.6 million in October. Also making comScore’s top 10, in the final slot, were the sites of Sears Holdings Corp., up 53.4 percent to 26.3 million uniques from 17.1 million.

Excluding from Wal-Mart’s figures, alone had a 62 percent increase, to 46.2 million visitors, followed by Target’s 38.8 million, up 43 percent., which excludes and several other Sears sites from the overall figures for the firm, was next with 19 million, ahead 36 percent, followed by J.C. Penney Co. Inc., up 34 percent to 15.4 million, and Macy’s Inc., up 38 percent to 12.7 million.

By contrast, same-store sales fell 1.5 percent at Target in November, dropped 5.9 percent at Penney’s and declined 6.1 percent at Macy’s, according to figures reported by those companies on Dec. 3. Wal-Mart and Sears don’t report monthly sales results.

Toys ‘R’ Us sites scored healthy gains in November, with uniques up 82.4 percent to 14.8 million.

The gains for department stores, as defined by comScore, ranked behind those for the incentives, toys, coupons and consumer electronics categories, but ahead of malls; consumer goods; personal finance; jewelry, accessories and luxury, and sports and outdoor on a percentage basis.

Furthermore, none of the top 10 growth categories came close to department stores’ 80.9 million visitors, the closest being personal finance with 59.6 million, followed by consumer electronics with 52.8 million.

According to comScore, online retail spending other than travel rose 9.7 percent in November to $12.26 billion from $11.18 billion in November 2008. Cyber Monday spending was up 6.4 percent to $887 million, nearly $300 million more than the amount spent online on Black Friday, $595 million, which itself was up 11.4 percent from the same month last year. Thanksgiving Day spending online rose 10.4 percent to $318 million from $288 million in November 2008.

“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 four out of five Americans online visiting a retail site during November, the Internet clearly represents an increasingly important channel for retailers during the holiday season and beyond.”

The comScore study also showed Google increasing its share of online searches to 65.6 percent in November from 65.4 percent in October, while Microsoft searches rose to 10.3 percent from 9.9 percent. Yahoo, Ask and AOL all showed declines in search share.

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