Traffic to news, job and real estate sites in the UK was up in March compared with December 2016, as internet users shifted their focus from gift shopping to homes, careers and current events.
Shopping-related sites saw a 14% decline in visitors in March 2017 vs. December 2016, according to comScore data cited in the most recent edition of digital audience measurement watchdog UKOM’s “UK Digital Market Overview” report.
Homegrown retailers Tesco and Home Retail Group—parent firm of general merchandise seller Argos—both fell out of the top 20 digital properties in the final month of the first quarter, replaced by news sites from Telegraph Media Group and ESI Media, owner of newspapers The Independent and the London Evening Standard.
A post-Christmas drop-off in visits to retail sites would be a reasonable enough explanation for March’s retail-to-news switch, but UKOM’s report noted that the ranking was also influenced by events like the March 22 terrorist attack in Westminster driving up visits to news sites for the month.
Sites for primarily brick-and-mortar retail businesses weren’t alone in attracting fewer UK visitors. Ecommerce-related Google sites, PayPal and Amazon sites all had lower UK unique visitor traffic in March compared with three months earlier.
Meanwhile, measures of time spent with various sites showed similar patterns. comScore’s tracking shows time spent in March with LinkedIn jumped 87% vs. December 2016, while time spent with real estate site Rightmove rose 66%. According to UKOM’s report, two other job and real estate properties outside of the top 20—Indeed and Zoopla—also showed “big growth” in time spent compared with three months earlier.
The heightened activity on job sites comes at a time of historically low unemployment in the UK. According to Office for National Statistics (ONS) – UK data, the country’s unemployment rate for the three month period ending in February 2017 was 4.7%. The last time it touched that level was more than 10 years ago, and the measure hasn’t been below 4.7% since the 1970s.