Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Cyber Monday Web Traffic Up. What Does That Mean?

Web traffic to the top online shopping sites jumped 10 percent on Cyber Monday compared to last year, says Nielsen Online.

So what does that mean? Nothing, really: Assuming the data are accurate, we still don’t know what people actually spent, and what they spent it on. We’re likely get a few more pieces of the puzzle today, when/if comScore (SCOR) comes out with its online commerce numbers. But the most important data are still locked away in retailers’ databases, and that stuff won’t be public for some time.

[UPDATE: ComScore says sales were up 15 percent.]

One way to tell how retailers really did: Ask somebody who sells Web advertising. An ad exec for an online publisher I spoke to yesterday told me that December sales had “stopped cold” because his clients wanted to see what their Black Friday/Cyber Monday numbers looked like before committing any more ad dollars this year.

He’s hoping for good news. As of last night, he hadn’t heard a peep.

In the meantime, here’s an array of data points from Nielsen and rival Web measurement firm Hitwise. Here are Nielsen’s top online retail destinations, ranked by unique visitors. Note the big increases at Amazon (AMZN), Best Buy (BBY) and Sears (SHLD). Why is Netflix (NFLX) considered an online retailer? Got me. (Click to enlarge)

And here’s Hitwise’s summary of Cyber Monday; note that its take on traffic seems to differ from Nielsen’s when it comes to overall visits:

  • Among the top 500 Retail Web sites, the percentage of U.S. visits was down 1% on Cyber Monday 2008 compared with 2007.
  • U.S. visits to Brick and Mortar store Web sites (100 total) were down 4% on Cyber Monday.
  • U.S. visits to Online-only Web sites (100 total) were up 5% on on Cyber Monday.
  • U.S. visits to the Comparison Shopping Web sites were down 21% on Cyber Monday.
  • U.S. visits to the Catalog Web sites were down 4% on Cyber Monday.
  • The top visited Retail Web site on Cyber Monday 2008 was, receiving 10.77% of U.S. visits among the top 500 Retail Web sites. was the second most visited with 8.55% of visits, followed by with 4.56%. was the fourth most visited with 3.81%, and was fifth with 2.74% of visits.
  •’s traffic increased 21% on Cyber Monday 2008 vs. 2007.’s traffic increased 6%.

[Image Credit: Respres]

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik