Grinches Rule Online

The “true spirit of Christmas” isn’t exactly brimming over on the Internet, according to online intelligence service Hitwise. The latest figures from the New York-based firm’s Holiday Shopping Tracker show that, while shoppers are driving online retail to record highs this holiday season, that enthusiasm does not extend to charitable and humanitarian Web sites. According to Hitwise, shopping and classifieds sites claimed 9.54% of all U.S. Internet visits for the week ending Dec.18, 2004, an increase of 27% versus the same week last year (ending Dec. 20, 2003). But for the same weeks, visits to humanitarian Web sites dropped 6%; and November 2004 monthly levels dropped 15% versus November 2003.

“Visitor levels to charity and humanitarian sites peaked in November 2003, but most have been on the decline ever since,” said Bill Tancer, VP of research, Hitwise. Tancer’s advice is that charities run their marketing efforts more like traditional businesses. “Charities should place greater emphasis on reaching their target market,” he says, “as our data clearly indicate that there are distinct demographic characteristics for visitors to charitable and humanitarian sites.” Humanitarian site visitors tended to be older, less affluent, and female, with “Midscale Urbanites” from the social group “Midtown Mix,” characterized by its ethnic diversity, childless households and active social lives, the most likely frequenters of these sites.

In other Internet data from Hitwise, the top-growing shopping categories last week were Grocery & Alcohol, Appliances & Electronics, Flowers & Gifts, and Computers and Video & Games, while the fastest growing shopping categories versus last year (week ending Dec. 20, 2003) were Classifieds, Grocery & Alcohol, Automotive, Auctions, and Computers. Of the top 200 shopping and classifieds Web sites, the fastest moving sites last week were Omaha Steaks (up 167%), Fossil (up 160%), eMachines (up 93%), Gateway (up 90%), and Spyhear (up 68%).

Hitwise uses a combination of ISP data partnerships and opt-in mega panels to monitor how more than 25 million Internet users interact with over 500,000 websites across 160 industry categories each day. For more information visit http://www.hitwise.com/.

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