Visits to high street sites overtake online-only retailer

High street retailers received more than half of all UK Internet visits to online retailers during October, suggesting that brick and mortar brands will have a better Christmas online than in past years.

According traffic monitored by Hitwise of the top 50 high street and non-high street online retailers in the UK, 51.1% of visits were to an online retailer that also has physical stores, such as Argos, Marks & Spencer and Next, while 48.9% were to a retailer without a high street presence, such as Amazon, Dell and ASOS.

"Traditionally high street retailers receive less online traffic than their pure play online competitors, except during the Christmas and January sales period," said Hitwise research director Robin Goad.

"In 2006 high street retailers only overtook their online rivals during the peak month of December, but this year they overtook in September and have been widening the gap ever since. It looks like this year will be a bumper Christmas online for traditional bricks and mortar brands."

Hitwise said high street retailers have been more successful at gaining traffic from search engines during October, with search engines accounting for 37.1% of their upstream traffic compared with 30.4% for the for pure-play online retailers.

Email marketing is also another big source of traffic for retailers in the run up to Christmas, with one in 20 visits to a shopping and classifieds website coming from web-based email site in October.

UK consumers in October spent an average of £85 online in response to permissions-based email offers from apparel retailers, according to research from email marketing and web sites analytics company CheetahMail.

The volume of emails sent out by retailers is expected to increase in the run up to Christmas as retailers begin blasting out 'last minute' online-only deals and drive footfall for specific in-store offers, according to CheetahMail European managing director Steve Lomax.

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