Buy or Sell: Top Retailers Q4 Online Sales Results

After six months of steady gains, Q4 earnings season is upon us. This means that message boards are aflutter with insider tips about which retailers knocked the ball out of the park in Q4 and which ones, well, whiffed. Over the course of the last three weeks, people went to the finance forums at Yahoo!, MSN or AOL more than 6 million times to get the scoop on what to expect during the earnings calls. The most recent two weeks had the most visits we’ve seen since we started monitoring this last year.

All of this activity reminds me of last year’s heated debate about AMZN’s earnings between Warren Buffett (handle: richierich) and Anthony Noto (handle: goldman860) on the Yahoo! Finance message boards. Umm, just kidding.

Hey, I love consumer-generated content as much as the next person, but why rely on amateurs when you can get cold, hard data from Compete? For the first time, we are releasing data detailing the number of online transactions for the top retailers during the 2006 holiday shopping season. One of the things that we do at Compete is dissect clickstreams so we can track when people in our panel buy something at the sites they visit. Based on this, we can estimate how many purchases are made across the top retail sites. And we’re releasing these figures before these retailers announce their Q4 revenues and earnings. Compete Blog readers, analysts, fund managers and daytraders rejoice!

Note: estimates are based on Compete’s panel of US consumers and cover online transactions only.

Some highlights that we found interesting:

  • Purchases across the top sites increased 27% versus the same period, in-sync with Q4 online spending projections from the online commerce experts at Forrester.
  • Amazon is still the reigning king of holiday e-commerce with over 20 million online purchases; while web traffic at Walmart is closing in on Amazon (40.7 versus 57.8 million million in December), Amazon completes nearly 8 times as many transactions.
  • Holy December Best Buy! After running in parallel with Circuit City for the prior twelve months, Best Buy kicked in the afterburners and posted a big December.
  • Warm weather impacting flannel pajama sales? While L.L. Bean and Lands End both showed strong year-over-year gains in December web traffic, neither company increased online transactions.
  • While Vista Print and Kodak Gallery won the battle for web traffic among online photo sites in Q4, Snapfish won where it counts — in getting people to buy on its site. And unlike the other sites, transactions per person ramped up nicely throughout the quarter, too.

So go ahead start that hedge fund you’ve been thinking about; buying your first Hinkley may be closer than you think.

Stay tuned through the end of the month for a deeper look into the battle between NFLX and BBI, and for hot off the presses January data covering DIET, NTRI, and WTW. And if you want to receive more data like this going forward, feel free to email me at or leave a comment here.

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About Stephen DiMarco:
Stephen Dimarco is the Chief Marketing Officer at Compete. He has more than 15 years of marketing and client management experience. With Compete, he has management oversight of Compete’s award-winning consumer services and emerging vertical markets. Stephen also oversees marketing of Compete’s intelligence and targeting services to fortune 500 companies. Previously, Mr. DiMarco was a co-founder of the Internet strategy consulting firm ZEFER and directed business development and marketing initiatives for News Corporation, where he negotiated multi-million dollar distribution agreements for the company's cable programming subsidiaries. Prior to News Corporation, Mr. DiMarco managed the creation of consumer campaigns for Comedy Central, a joint venture between Time Warner and Viacom. Follow him on Twitter @sdimarco

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