Hitwise, the online measurement service, says the amount of UK internet traffic that online retailers receive from social networks has increased by 153% since Christmas last year.
eBay is the biggest retail beneficiary of traffic from social networking sites, according to Hitwise, followed by department stores and clothing and accessories sites.
Meanwhile, the close links between social networks and the entertainment industry have helped music and video and games retailers. Together, the five categories account for 72% of all online retail traffic sent from social networks.
In September, 3.1% of UK internet visits to the Hitwise shopping and classifieds category came from the top 25 social networks in the UK, making it the fourth biggest source of traffic to online retailers following search, e-mail services and other shopping and classified sites.
Last month also saw social networks account for one in every 20 UK internet visits, says Hitwise. Robin Goad, research director at Hitwise UK, adds: “In terms of internet visits, social networking has grown by over 70% in the UK since last Christmas, and it is starting to have a serious impact on many different types of website.”
He says the increased traffic reflects British society as a whole, saying that social networks are no longer “just” for teenagers and students with the proportion of visitors aged over 55 visiting sites in Hitwise’s net communities and chat category growing by 63% between December last year and September this year.
“Facebook” is now the third most searched-for term in the UK.