Hitwise Records Drop In Retail Traffic

Unhappy news for sites not connected to food and alcohol

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It would be less than shocking if a certain Pink Floyd song has become stuck in the minds of online retailers recently; "Is There Anybody Out There?" seems like a semi-appropriate question as a new Hitwise report explains that fewer people are swinging by their sites.

Heather Dougherty writes, "The economic downturn . . . continues to impact overall visits to online retailers, which was down 7% for the week ending Feb. 21, 2009 as compared to the previous year."  Sites selling less than essential items have been hit especially hard.  (The Computers and Music categories experienced year-over-year decreases of 23 and 22 percent, respectively.)

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 Credit: (Hitwise)

Only sites with ties to department stores, groceries, and alcohol seem to have done well, and Dougherty writes, "[W]e can see that the share of visits to the Grocery & Alcohol category shows an increase in traffic from the less affluent.  For the 4 weeks ending Feb 21, 2009, the share of visits from those earning less than $100k reached 81% of the visits to the category as compared to 72% one year ago."  So folks appear to be eating in more.

As for what’s going on with department stores, it may be that people are just visiting the sites a lot in order to keep an eye out for sales, or perhaps they’ve been stocking up on sweaters so they can lower thermostats.

Anyway, we’ll keep our fingers crossed that "Money" becomes a more fitting tune as the weather warms up.

Hitwise Records Drop In Retail Traffic
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