High street retailers that have developed a strong online presence received a major payback this Christmas, according to traffic figures from Hitwise.

The measurement group’s Heather Hopkins has published a review of her pre-Christmas online retail predictions, including some useful information on traffic to UK retail sites over the festive period.

It seems that, as indicated by some of the Christmas trading figures released in the past week, high street retailers’ online divisions had a successful December.

Heather had predicted back in September that high street brands would continue to make gains over pure-play providers. Hitwise’s stats show large increases in market share of UK internet visits among the top 100 retailers.

These include:

• A 25% increase in market share of UK internet visits for M&S, whose site had 9m customers in the last three months of 2006.

• A 26% increase for Woolworths.

• 58% for HMV.co.uk.

• 23% for John Lewis.

• 103% for Waitrose (online food retailers seem to have had an especially good Christmas, with Tesco and Sainsburys also reporting increases in online sales.)

Heather had also predicted that there would be more last minute shopping this year, based on figures from the past two years which showed that visits to the Shopping & Classifieds category peaked the week before 10th December, one week later than in 2004.

This time around, visits peaked in the week up to 9th December and, though they did decline slightly the following week, they remained stronger then they had in 2005, perhaps reflecting increased confidence in etailers’ ability to deliver on time.

Also see our updated 

Internet Statistics Compendium

 for info on the etailing sector.