Comparison shopping Web sites have seen a surge in holiday visits this year, as more consumers look to the Internet to compare prices, a research company said on Wednesday.
Last week, top comparison shopping sites logged about 0.3 percent of all Internet traffic, a 24 percent jump from a year earlier, according to Internet traffic monitoring company Hitwise. Those sites accounted for 2.79 percent of all traffic to online retail sites.
"People are not only buying online but also using online sites like comparison shopping engines as a tool to research prices to get the best prices online and offline," said Bill Tancer, Hitwise's general manager of global research.
The spike in hits is expected to move upward as the final days of Christmas shopping grow nearer, he said.
Holiday shopping is as important to Web retailers as it is to traditional retailers, which rely on the end-of-the-year buying frenzy for a significant percentage of their total annual sales.
Comparison shopping sites get the bulk of their traffic from search engines, but as the sites build brand identity, consumers will go directly to their favorite source, Tancer said.
The research group found that Google Inc., for example, generated 10.8 percent of visits to online retailers, not just comparison shopping sites, for the week ended December 3. But nearly half of all visits to online retailers originate from other shopping sites, Hitwise found.
Comparison shopping sites saw a 61 percent rise in traffic in the week ending November 27 compared with the week ending October 30, according to the Nielsen//NetRatings Holiday eShopping Index 2005. That outpaced the 35 percent rise in visits to e-retailers as a whole over the same period.
More retailers have begun to cooperate with comparison shopping sites because it is considered "a measured marketing vehicle for them," said Scott Silverman, executive director of Web retailer trade group Shop.org.
According to Hitwise, comparison shopping sites Shopping.com, BizRate.com and Shopzilla were the 12th, 13th and 14th most visited shopping and classified Web sites last week, respectively, in a ranking that named eBay Inc., Amazon.com and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Walmart.com 1st 2nd and 3rd, respectively.