The number of visits to UK retail web sites from paid search advertising fell last year, while traffic from social networks increased significantly, according to figures from online market research firm Hitwise released today.
The stats show a drop in the amount of traffic from paid search listings on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Ask. In March 2008, 10.1 per cent of all UK internet visits to online retailers came from a paid search listing, but this figure dropped to 8.9 per cent by last month.
But the value of click-throughs from social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter appears to have grown, with the proportion of online retailers' traffic coming from these sites rising from 5.2 per cent in March 2008 to 7.1 per cent in March 2009.
The retail categories that received most traffic from social networks during March 2009 were Auctions, Fashion and Department Stores, accounting for half of all visits to online retailers.
"Social networks are a relatively small but fast growing source of traffic for online retailers," said Hitwise director of research, Robin Goad.
"At present, only a minority of retailers pick up a significant amount of traffic from social networks, but many of those that do have seen a positive impact on traffic."
The new Hitwise research also found that UK consumers in general are spending less time shopping online and more time visiting social networking sites and browsing online media.
During March 2009, 8.6 per cent of all UK internet visits were to online retail sites and 9.8 per cent to social networking web sites. But in March 2008, the figures were reversed, with online retailers accounting for 9.7 per cent of all internet visits, and social networks 8.2 per cent, according to Hitwise.
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