Apple has been named the second most popular online retailer in the UK behind Amazon, says the IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group).
The technology giant has risen six places from last year to oust Argos from the number two spot in the IMRG's Hot Shops list. The IMRG said the launch of the Apple iPhone 4S twinned with the death of Steve Jobs saw Apple's web traffic increase five-fold during Q3 of 2011. Furthermore, in October 2011, Apple accounted for one in every 250 visits from UK internet users.
Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, said: "While the passing of Steve Jobs will undoubtedly have increased traffic levels to the Apple site, the sheer popularity of tablet devices such as the iPad is also a key factor."
Amazon has occupied the top spot since the Hot Shops list began in 2006, while Argos, Tesco and Next made up the remainder of the top five.
"Amazon UK and Apple are now the two biggest brands in online retail, and this Christmas they will go head-to-head in the gadget wars as the Amazon Kindle contends with the Apple iPad. Our data shows that iPad is the more popular gadget online but the Kindle's lower price point may entice shoppers this Christmas," said James Murray, marketing research analyst at Experian Hitwise, which helps IMRG compile the Hot Shops list.
The IMRG estimate £3.72bn will be spent online during the first two weeks of December.
"Online shopping is stronger than ever and year-on-year we've seen UK internet visits to the online retail category grow by three percent, a trend we fully expect to continue throughout Christmas and the January sales period," added Murray.
"We predict that Christmas 2011 will be another record-breaking year for the online retail sector. The UK spent 322 million hours shopping online in October 2011 and this is likely to increase to 350 million hours in December as people shop for their Christmas gifts."