Brick-and-Mortar Wins Big In ’99

Despite massive advertising campaigns undertaken by pure-play e-tailers during the holiday season, online shoppers gravitated toward brick-and-click sites, according to the latest figures from Media Metrix.

Nearly half of the 50 most visited Web sites have a strong brick-and-mortar presence, according to the report, while few of the pure-play Web sites made the list at all, except for well-known leaders.

Pure-Play Online Leaders Still On Top

The top two positions on the list are controlled by online veterans and eBay, with traffic to their sites growing by 81 percent and 76 percent respectively. still ranked third, but with only a 45 percent increase in its online traffic. The growth rate is small in comparison to its brick-and-mortar rivals.

Offline Sites Have Fastest Growth

Web sites with a strong offline presence enjoyed the biggest growth rates during the holiday shopping season. For instance,’s traffic soared 356 percent, pushing it into fifth place despite its many online troubles. also had a great holiday season. Its online traffic skyrocketed by 510 percent, putting it in 12th place on the overall list.

The strong growth of branded brick-and-mortar sites make many industry observers feel that this year’s holiday results will force more pure-play Internet e-tailers to seek alliances with brick-and-mortar counterparts or face possible extinction.

Brand Names Attracted Online Shoppers

To underscore this point, Web sites for J.C. Penney Co., Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Southwest Airlines were all in the top 30, with giant retailer Wal-Mart following closely behind.

Few on the list were dot-com companies that pumped the most into the fourth quarter e-commerce advertising blitz. In fact, none of the sites devoted to beauty products, gift certificates or luxury made the list at all.

In the pet-supply category, just one site — — was on the list, coming in 51st.

Teen Buyers Increased

Meanwhile, the number of teenage visitors to e-commerce sites had a greater increase percentage than the increase in adult visitors this year. Unique visitors 12 to 17 years of age jumped 89 percent over the same week last year compared to a 34 percent increase for adults 18 and older.

Teenagers now account for five percent of total e-commerce site usage — up from three percent last year.

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