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BizReport : Social Marketing : April 27, 2009

Hitwise: Time spent with online retail decreasing

New research from Hitwise shows that consumers are logging on to be entertained and to socialize rather than to shop, illustrated by a drop in the amount of time spent with online retail and a rise in the amount of time devoted to online media.

by Helen Leggatt

hitwise logo2.gifIn March 2009, 9.8% of all U.K. Internet visits were directed to social networking sites and 8.6% to online retail sites. Those figures show a turnaround from last year when visits to social networks was at 8.2% and online retailers 9.7%.

"The growth of social networking, online video and the continuing popularity of news websites has meant that an increasing proportion of consumers' online time in the UK has been devoted to online media," said Robin Goad, Hitwise director of research, in a recent blog post.

"Historically this has gone hand in hand with the growth of online retail, but over the past three months online retailers seem to be really suffering from the economic downturn for the first time," he added.

The Hitwise research also suggests U.K. online retailers are seeing less traffic from paid search efforts and more from social networks. In March, 2009, 8.9% of visits to U.K. retailers came from paid search listings, down from 10.1% the previous year.

Meanwhile, the value of click-throughs from social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter seems to have grown, with the proportion of online retailers' traffic coming from these sites rising from 5.2% in March 2008 to 7.1% in March 2009.

However, Goad does note that search engines remain the primary source of traffic for the vast majority of online retailers.

Tags: Hitwise, online media, online retail, online shopping, paid search, Robin Goad, social networking

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