Retail Sites See Largest Audience Gains

Retail sites, rather than content and social-networking ones, posted the largest audience gains during the month of November, as Americans flocked online to start their holiday shopping in droves despite the lingering recession.

According to comScore, the top 10 sites that enjoyed the biggest jumps in unique user from October to November were all retail-centric, as many U.S. Web users pushed aside reading, watching video and networking with friends to start online holiday shopping. According to comScore, close to four out of five Americans visited a retail site last month.

The ranking of top audience gainers was littered with gaming sites (like Ubisoft and Gamestop ranked No. 2 and No. 3) and brick-and-mortar retail giants (such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Sears—ranked No. 6, No. 9 and No. 10 respectively).

The biggest surge in audience came from perhaps an unexpected source:, which promotes Visa’s ultra high-end luxury credit card, saw its user base soar by over 3,100 percent to nearly 5.5 million uniques, albeit from a small base of just 168,000 users in October. 

The surge in online shopping and increased interest in upscale credit aside, Americans hardly seemed to return to their free-spending ways of the recent past, at least based on comScore’s findings. Among the highest-gaining categories in November were incentive shopping sites (+ 76 percent to 27.6 million uniques overall) and coupon sites (+33 percent to 37.5 million users). The site Coupons Inc. drew more than 8 million users in November.

Deal-seeking shoppers also flocked to the Web during the traditional retail extravaganza Black Friday and its recent Web counterpart Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving, when many e-commerce sites offer sales).

Overall, comScore tracked  $12.3 billion in sales in November, $595 million of which occurred on Black Friday and $887 million taking place on Cyber Monday. More than half of Cyber Monday purchases were made from a work computer, found comScore.