ComScore Finds "Unprecedented" Slowdown in U.K. E-tail Holiday Traffic

The early holiday shopping season found fewer consumers hitting U.K. retail Web sites compared with last year's identical period, with some major sites seeing double-digit declines, according to Comscore.

The measuring company said November online traffic in the U.K. saw Tesco's traffic decline a whopping 28 percent for the period, while Amazon's was 21 percent lower, European eBay sites were getting 20 percent fewer online visitors, Home Retail took a 16 percent traffic hit and Apple dropped 8 percent.

"This is totally unprecedented," said comScore International Press Analyst Jamie Gavin. "I would echo the words of my colleagues in the U.S.. They saw an unprecedented falloff in ecommerce spending." Gavin said comScore does not yet measure ecommerce spending in Europe, just site traffic.

The analyst said finding one specific answer to explain the trend is difficult.

"While we do know the markets are down and we are living in uncertain times, it is difficult to give a reason for that," Gavin said. "You could look at it positively and say Internet shoppers get savvier every year. So perhaps they are going online less or maybe it's taking people less visits to get done what they want."

Gavin said there's a chance the final weeks of the holiday shopping season will bring a sudden surge in traffic. He's not betting on it, though.

"At this point, I would be going out on a massive limb to predict they could regain all that momentum," Gavin said. "I definitely do think they'll gain some ground back. The way the economy has been, people are perhaps just waiting a little longer to seek bargains."