90 percent of Web shopping through four search sites

Most online holiday shoppers are going straight to the four main search engines for assistance in ferreting out the perfect present for friends and family, according a study by WebSideStory Inc.

The search engines from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft's MSN and AOL Time Warner's America Online (AOL) accounted for 92.79 percent of all global search referrals to shopping Web sites on Dec. 1, the San Diego company said in a statement Wednesday.

Analyzing visitor data from more than 6,000 shopping Web sites, the study found Google to be the most popular site, accounting for 27.16 percent of all referrals to the surveyed Web sites. That compares with 18.46 percent for Google on the same day last year, WebSideStory said.

Yahoo held second place with 25.92 percent of such referrals on Dec. 1, 2002, followed by MSN (24.11 percent) and AOL NetFind (15.60 percent), the Web analytics company said. The 2002 figures show a large drop for Yahoo. On Dec. 1, 2001, Yahoo made 41.41 percent of all referrals.

Online holiday shopping in general is expected to be very popular this year. On Monday alone, consumers spent US$380 million on purchases over the Internet, an increase of 104 percent from the same day last year, according to a study released Tuesday by comScore Networks Inc.

While the holiday shopping season traditionally kicks off in the U.S. the day after Thanksgiving, the study attributed Monday's jump in online shopping to people waiting until they got into work and had access to faster Internet connections.

Due to increased comfort concerning the process of shopping online and the belief that there are better deals to be found over the Internet, comScore estimates that 30 percent more people are shopping online this year.

Nielsen//NetRatings Inc. 2002 Holiday eCommerce Index also reported strong growth in online shopping for the day after Thanksgiving. Consumer electronic sites more than doubled traffic rates last Friday, attracting 111 percent more visitors than last year, while book, music and video sites attracted 76 percent more shoppers this year, the Nielsen//NetRatings said.

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