U.S. Net shoppers stay close to home in November

Cooking, holiday shopping, home improvement and entertainment were on the minds of U.S. Internet users in November, according to a report released Monday by Internet data-tracking company ComScore Networks Inc.

Total online sales for November totalled US$4.8 billion, 13 percent higher than the previous month, ComScore said, with the lion's share of sales, or $3.3 billion, falling in the hard goods category.

With the onset of the holiday season and cooler weather, Internet users apparently chose to stay closer to home, so much so that all that time indoors led users to want to change their surroundings. Home improvement sites experienced a traffic spike, with Lowes.com tallying 35 percent more visitors compared to the previous month and Apartments.com drawing 25 percent more visitors.

The Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. sent would-be chefs scurrying to sites like Allrecipes.com, which had 3.2 million visitors in November, or 42 percent more than in October. Allrecipes.com visitors spent an average of 11 percent more time online per visitor and who viewed 14 percent more pages on the site in October, ComScore reported.

Stuffed on holiday goodies and needing to get out, many users apparently chose to go see the much-vaunted kids' movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Traffic on the Harrypotter.com site, an AOL Time Warner Inc. property, jumped 59 percent over October, while movie ticket purchasing site Moviefone.com saw 53 percent more visitors.

Video game entertainment also proved popular, with rivals Playstation2.com, Nintendo.com and Xbox.com all experiencing traffic growth.

And, of course, with Christmas around the corner, consumers sought to do some online shopping, patronizing top e-commerce sites like Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Bestbuy.com.

Amazon lured 13 percent more unique visitors than in the previous month, totalling 44.2 million visitors in November, while Walmart.com drew 77 percent more visitors to boast 6.6 million visitors during the month. Bestbuy.com had 7.2 million visitors in November, 53 percent more than in October.

The top properties in November were the aggregated sites of online titans Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc., and AOL Time Warner, ComScore reported. Microsoft sites held their number-one position despite a .3 percent decrease in traffic from October to November. Yahoo sites reported a .5 percent increase during the period to come in at number-two, while AOL Time Warner sites drummed up .3 percent more visitors during the period.

All in all, consumers are clearly enjoying the convenience and efficiency of shopping and doing buying research online, ComScore said.

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