Top 50 online retailers in the UK- Olympics boosts travel sites

03/09/2012

Amazon remained top of the UK online shops during August, followed by Apple and Argos, while the Olympics boosted visits to travel sites, according to new research. The findings, from the IMRG-Experian Hitwise Hot Shops List, indicate that London 2012 Tickets was the fastest moving retailer this quarter as consumers flocked online for precious Olympics tickets. On the Beach entered the top 50 for the first time this quarter, joining 10 other travel brands who all rose in the rankings of the Hot Shops List with the exception of easyJet, which retained its previous position.

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In addition to London 2012 Tickets, the fastest movers were The Carphone Warehouse (+18), On the Beach (+15), Thomas Cook (+12) and Travel Republic (+11).

Supermarket brands fell in the rankings this quarter with Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA and ASDA Direct all finishing lower than they did last quarter. Tesco Direct was the only website within the top 50 to buck this trend rising one place to number 14.

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Analysis:

With the “greatest show on Earth” kicking off in July the main focus of this quarter was the Olympic Games. High demand meant that London 2012 Tickets was ranked 15 this Hot Shops List, up 20 places on May 2011 when the ticketing website was a new entry and jumping an astonishing 104 places since August last year. One of the halo effects of the Games has been an increase in visits to bike and cycling websites. Since the start of the Olympics visits rose 13% with Halfords rising three places in the list to number 42 this quarter.

As expected, travel brands had a strong quarter with the peak summer months leading to increased visits to the leading travel websites in the UK. Thomson was the highest ranked travel website in the Hot Shops List during this period, ranked at 12 although year-on-year the travel agency was down two places on August 2011. Three travel brands were among the fastest movers this quarter, notably On the Beach which has been on the periphery of the top 50 for years but made its debut at 38.

Within the top 10 only two retailers kept their place from last quarter, with Apple overtaking Argos and Next jumping two places to leapfrog Tesco and Amazon.com. Department stores
John Lewis and Debenhams both increased their rankings at the expense of Play.com which fell two places but managed to remain in the top 10.

With the exception of Next it was generally a poor quarter for fashion retailers with ASOS, New Look, River Island, Topshop, Very.co.uk and Littlewoods all dropping in the rankings.

James Murray, Digital Insight Manager for Experian Marketing Services commented: “The rush for Olympics tickets online led to a quadrupling of visits to the London 2012 Tickets website between June and July. In particular we saw increased demand for Football, Athletics and Volleyball tickets in the run up to the Opening Ceremony. With so much attention focussed on the Olympics maintaining a “business as usual” attitude can be a challenge for some companies, but big events like the Olympics should be seen as an opportunity not an obstacle for brands. Netflix is a good example of a company that has nothing to do with the Olympics but is still rising up the Hot Shops List positioning itself as a welcome relief for people who do not want to watch the sport on TV.”

Tina Spooner, Chief Information Officer at IMRG, commented: “Not surprisingly, the Olympics have had a strong impact on traffic patterns over the previous period. There was a surge in visits to the London 2012 Tickets website as sports fans looked to pick up re-released tickets not taken up by the VIPs. The “Wiggins effect” no doubt boosted visits to Halfords, with his dual Tour de France and Olympic Gold success prompting a huge interest in road cycling. Not everyone enjoyed the blanket coverage however, which led to a boost for the online travel retailers. This sector also witnessed an increase in sales to match the traffic levels, with the IMRG Capgemini Index recording double-digit growth in July, in contrast to a disappointing performance in the same month last year.”

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