Crisis Means More News Traffic, Disrupts E-Commerce

An average of 11.7 million Americans visited online news sites each day the week after the Sept. 11 tragedy, almost double the 6 million who visited news sites in the week before the attack, according to Jupiter MMXI.

The online news category grew by almost 80 percent during the week ending Sept. 16 compared to the week ending Sept. 9. In addition to news sites, the Red Cross Web site (RedCross.org) averaged 398,000 unique visitors per day during the week.

Among online news providers, ABCNews.com, which broadcast its live television coverage in the week after the attack, experienced a surge in average daily unique visitors, with an increase of more than 360 percent. Unique visitors to ABCNews.com grew from 272,000 in the week ending Sept. 9 to 1,257,000 in the week ending Sept. 16.

CNN.com logged 4.6 million unique visitors each day during the week after the attack, making it the sixth most visited site in the United States with a total of 17.2 million unique visitors, according to Jupiter MMXI. The BBC Web site, BBC.co.uk, grew by more than 260 percent, from 146,000 to 526,000 average daily U.S. unique visitors.

U.K. home Internet users also went online for attack-related news. Jupiter Media Metrix found the news category experienced more than 35 percent growth in the number of unique visitors from Britain. Top ranking sites in the week ending Sept. 16 included BBC.co.uk, CNN.com, Guardian.co.uk and Sky.com.


Top U.S. News Sites in Wake of Sept. 11 Attack
Week Ending Sept. 16
Site Seven-Day
Unique Visitors

(000)
Reach
General News Category 34,451 46.4%
CNN.com 17,247 23.2%
MSNBC.com 14,994 20.2%
ABC News 5,469 7.4%
CBS.com Sites 4,842 6.5%
NYTimes.com 4,536 6.1%
WashingtonPost.com 4,430 6.0%
Slate.com 3,443 4.6%
USAToday.com 3,367 4.5%
Foxnews.com 2,934 4.0%
BBC.co.uk 2,624 3.5%
LA Times 1,343 1.8%
AP.org 1,221 1.6%
Boston.com 1,006 1.4%
Miami.com 966 1.3%
Philly.com 841 1.1%
NYPost.com 820 1.1%
Source: Jupiter MMXI

Another Web site that attracted a lot of attention in the wake of the attack was TributetoHeroes.org, the site for the celebrity telethon. At-home traffic to the site spiked to more than 1.2 million unique visitors over the course of three days beginning Friday, Sept. 21, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

Interestingly, only 35 percent of the site’s audience (or 420,000 unique visitors) actually visited the donations page. The site’s audience was comprised of 60 percent females and 40 percent males.

Immediately following the attack, e-commerce, like much of the U.S. economy, came to a halt. But online shopping has largely rebounded since. E-tailing sites returned to 97 percent of their normal sales volume on Sept. 24, according to BizRate.com.

“The e-commerce industry is beginning to stabilize following a brief period of sharp decline in online sales brought on by the attacks,” said Chuck Davis, president and CEO of BizRate.com. “From this point forward, we anticipate a strong recovery as Americans heed the advice of the nation’s leaders and resume normal activities, including shopping.”

The Computer Software category experienced a tremendous rebound. On Sept. 24, the category generated $8.08 million in online sales, a 43 percent growth as compared to Sept. 10. Big-ticket categories like Computer Hardware are not rebounding as quickly to the attacks. Data from Sept. 24 showed sales volume of $16.57 million, or only 88 percent of corresponding sales from Sept 10.

Although losses in sales for Food and Wine, Sports and Outdoors, and Apparel were 62 percent, 37 percent and 34 percent, respectively, on the day of the tragedy, these categories showed the most aggressive recovery. Sales actually grew above pre-tragedy levels, to 137 percent, 113 percent and 107 percent for the week ending Sept. 24.

One of the biggest category losers on the day of the attack was Gifts and Flowers, which posted a 62 percent loss on Sept. 11; however, this category also experienced a strong surge in online sales in the days immediately following the tragedy, showing 33 percent growth from Sept. 11 to Sept. 12.

BizRate.com expects a healthy fourth quarter to generate $11.55 billion in online sales, a 25 percent year-over-year increase. The fourth quarter is historically the strongest quarter for e-tailers due to high volumes of holiday sales, and BizRate.com expects 33 percent of all 2001 online sales to be generated between October and December.


E-Commerce in Wake of Sept. 11 Attack
Date Online Sales
(millions)
Percent of Normal
Sales Volume
Sept. 10 $92.41 100%
Sept. 11 $56.29 61%
Sept. 17 $82.49 89%
Sept. 24 $89.68 97%
Source: BizRate.com

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