Increasing shopper traffic in stores was a challenge for Walmart throughout 2011, but it was a different story online. The retailer surged to number 18 on the November ranking of the top 50 U.S. Internet properties compiled by online measurement firm comScore.
Walmart.com registered 58.5 million unique visitors in November, a big lift sequentially from October when it had 45.2 million visitors and, more impressively, well above November 2010 when comScore showed Walmart.com with 51.8 million visitors.
If the company converted even a fraction of that traffic to sales it was a Merry Christmas indeed, as every week throughout the holiday season comScore reported another new record for online sales. The most recent figures from the firm put online sales during the Nov. 1 through Dec. 18 period at $32 billion, a 15% increase from the same time period the prior year. In addition, there were an unprecedented 10 days when total online retail sales exceeded $1 billion, according to comScore.
In terms of traffic, Walmart easily outdistanced rival Target, which had 40.2 million unique visitors during November and was ranked 26. While that is a major sequential improvement from October when Target.com had 27 million visitors, the figure has to be regarded a major disappointment, as Target.com experienced a late summer, glitch-laden relaunch and November traffic was essentially flat with the prior year when Target.com logged 39.8 million visitors.
Overall, the rising tide of online traffic during the holidays tended to lift other retailers’ boats. Best Buy and Sears don’t normally crack the top 50 ranking, (most months Walmart.com is the only conventional retailer in the top 50) but during November Best Buy was ranked 29 with 36.5 million unique visitors, and Sears was ranked 38 with 31 million unique visitors.