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Following a record month for online retail in December, Hitwise reports that UK Internet users have now shifted their focus away from shopping to holidays in the post-Christmas period. Hitwise data for December and early January reveals that whilst traffic to online retailers has fallen, interest in online travel agencies has boomed.

Market share of visits to Shopping sites decreased significantly from the week ending December 6th, as users finished their online Christmas shopping. From a peak of 10.6% for the week ending December 6th, market share for the Shopping category fell to 9% by the end of December.

By contrast, the travel sector has witnessed a significant increase in traffic despite recent heavy concern over the impact of terrorist threats. From a low of 2.3% market share for the week ending December 20th, the travel category has almost doubled to an impressive 4.13% of overall traffic for the week ending January 10th. Compared with the same point last year, visits to travel sites have increased by 27% as demand for winter breaks grows.

Travel websites which have seen a major increase in traffic include Expedia www.expedia.co.uk and First Choice www.firstchoice.co.uk. Expedia has increased its overall rank by more than 40 places since December 20th to become the 28th most visited UK site for the week ending 10th January, whilst First Choice has moved from 17th position to 9th position within the Travel Agencies category over the same period. Easyjet www.easyjet.co.uk, Ryanair www.ryanair.com and British Airways www.ba.com have also seen a considerable increase in traffic within the last 2 weeks, with Easyjet the most popular travel site in Hitwise’s top 100 UK sites for the week ending 10th January.

Top 10 UK Travel Agencies sites, week ending 10/1/04

1st
Expedia.co.uk
www.expedia.co.uk
10.98%

2nd
lastminute.com
www.lastminute.com
6.77%

3rd
MyTravel UK
www.uk.mytravel.com
4.91%

4th
Thomson Holidays
www.thomson-holidays.com
3.25%

5th
Airline Network
www.netflights.com
2.90%

6th
ebookers.com
www.ebookers.com
2.84%

7th
Opodo UK
www.opodo.co.uk
2.81%

8th
Cheapflights
www.cheapflights.co.uk
2.61%

9th
First Choice
www.firstchoice.co.uk
2.56%

10th
Online Travel Company
www.otc-uk.com
2.50%

Top searches by destination*

Hitwise search terms data reveals the top destinations that UK Internet users are searching for online are Majorca, Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

1st
majorca

2nd
tenerife

3rd
gran canaria

4th
fuerteventura

5th
cyprus

6th
lanzarote

7th
spain

8th
blackpool

9th
turkey

10th
lake district

* The most popular destination related keywords typed into a search engine over the 12 weeks ending January 10th 2004 which resulted in traffic to websites classified by Hitwise within the ‘Destinations & Accomodation’ category.

About Hitwise

Hitwise is the world’s leading provider of online competitive intelligence services. Each day, Hitwise monitors how more than 25 million Internet users interact with over 450,000 websites across 160 industry categories.

By monitoring more people, more websites, more often, Hitwise provides marketers with timely and actionable marketing insights into how their online presence compares to competitive websites. Companies use this information to maximize the return on their online investment in efforts such as affiliate programs, search marketing, online advertising, content development and lead generation.

Hitwise collects Internet usage information via a combination of ISP data partnerships and opt-in mega panels, and complies with local and international privacy legislation as audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Founded in 1998, Hitwise is a privately held company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia and operates in the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

www.hitwise.co.uk

For media enquiries, please contact:

Jannie Cahill

jannie.cahill@hitwise.com

Tel: 020 7378 3619

Published on: 12:00AM on 12th January 2004