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Hitwise, the world’s leading online competitive intelligence service, reports today that the market share of visits to shopping websites in the UK has broken through the 12% market share barrier for the first time.

With Christmas only weeks away, the online shopping sector now represents 12.13% of all visits by UK Internet users, based on data for the week ending November 20th. This news comes despite reports that offline retailers are experiencing slower rates of growth this festive season than they have during the pre-Christmas period in the past two years.

The latest monthly data from October 2004 also shows that traffic to shopping websites has increased by 24% in the 12 months since October 2003.

This breakthrough for the retail sector comes hot on the heels of the Hitwise UK Online Retail Report 2004, released last week. The report predicted that the retail sector would achieve 12% market share by the end of this year, in light of the similar increase experienced between October to December in 2003. It remains to be seen, however, whether the next round of monthly data will show that the sector can sustain this increase over a longer period.

Other key findings from the Hitwise Online Retail Report 2004 are similarly promising for the online retail sector:

- Visitors are spending longer on shopping sites this year: up from an average session duration of 6 minutes and 52 seconds in October 2003 to 7 minutes and 18 seconds in October 2004. The average session time for all sites is 6 minutes and 43 seconds.

- The largest segment of traffic to shopping sites comes from Internet users who are in the combined Social Grades of ABC1 (51.77%), the traditional target for advertisers. This confirms the adoption of online shopping by the higher Social Grades.

- UK users showed a greater preference for local retailers in October 2004 compared with October 2003. Visits to UK shopping sites accounted for 81.2% of all traffic in October 2004, 1.3% more than October 2003

The report also makes some interesting findings for retail search:

- 32.9% of visits to shopping websites during October 2004 came from search engines and directories.

- Of the top 1,000 most successful shopping search terms, 63.7% were brand specific (e.g ‘ebay’), 27.5% were generic product searches (e.g ‘mobile phones’) and 8.8% were specific product searches (e.g ‘nokia 6260’).

- ‘Ebay’ is the most popular shopping-related keyword typed into search engines, with 10 different variations of ‘ebay’ appearing within the top 100 shopping search terms. ‘Amazon’ and ‘argos’ are the second and third most popular keywords respectively.

- Hitwise Search Terms data reveals that only 28% of people used a single word in their search, 30% used 2 words whilst 42% used 3+ words.

To obtain a copy of the Hitwise UK Online Retail Report 2004, please contact Hitwise UK Marketing Manager, Jannie Cahill at or on 020 7378 3619.

About Hitwise:

Hitwise is the world’s leading online competitive intelligence service. Each day, Hitwise monitors how more than 25 million Internet users interact with over 500,000 websites across 160 industry categories.

By monitoring more people, more websites, more often, Hitwise provides marketers with timely and actionable marketing insights on how their online presence compares to competitive websites. Companies use this information to maximize the return on their online investment, in efforts such as search marketing, affiliate programs, online advertising, visitor segmentation, content development and lead generation.

Hitwise collects Internet usage information via a combination of ISP data partnerships and opt-in mega panels, and complies with local and international privacy legislation as audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Founded in 1997, Hitwise is a privately held company, headquartered in New York City and operates in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

More information about Hitwise is available at

For media enquiries, please contact:

Jannie Cahill
Tel: 020 7378 3619

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Hitwise UK in the following categories: Consumer Technology, Business & Finance, for more information visit