Market Overview

Apple Stores Were Beaten by Who This Holiday Season!?

One retailer website ranked higher than Apple.com this year.

And that website is jcpenney.com. How, you might wonder, could J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) have defeated Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) at a time when traditional retailers are suffering?

According to TechCrunch, the rankings were achieved with Compuware's (NASDAQ: CPWR) web performance division, which provided an end-of-season benchmark on retail numbers. To be clear, Apple.com did very well. It ranked second as the best-performing retail website during the 2011 holiday season.

While one could argue that J.C. Penney's advantage comes from the simple fact that it is a retailer that sells almost everything (compared to Apple, which only sells Apple products and related items), I am not sure what to make of the third-place winner: Dell (NASDAQ: DELL). With the decline of Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) and the slow death of Sony's (NYSE: SNE) Vaio division, consumers are clearly running out of options. If you want a Windows machine, where do you turn? For better or worse, consumers are turning to Dell.

On the mobile side of things, Sears.com (NASDAQ: SHLD) led the pack with the leading mobile website. This is yet another anomaly. I know a lot of people still shop at Sears, but it's a dying retailer. Walk into any location and you'll see diminishing lines. Of the last five times I went to Sears, three were to use the restroom. One time I purchased a new tire (which was covered under a warranty I had purchased in 2010 and only cost a few bucks to replace). Another time I came searching for a specific type of salted chocolate/caramel candies, which the retailer did not have in stock. So out of five visits, Sears got my business once. But while I like Sears Auto, I cannot say that I like anything about Sears' department stores. Most consumers seem to agree.

Amazon's (NASDAQ: AMZN) ranking as the number-two mobile site is a little more believable. But with such a heavy push to steal customers away from traditional retailers, I'm surprised that Amazon didn't come in first. Maybe by next Christmas – when millions of consumers are using the Kindle Fire (and, inevitably, the Kindle Fire 2) to surf the web – Amazon's mobile-optimized website will prove to be more successful.

Strangely, Dell had the third-most popular mobile site as well. The more I think about it, the more I am disturbed by this finding. Who visits Dell.com? Seriously, who? I could see where Apple fans would check Apple.com for new products. Apple has a sneaky way of updating the site, and you never know when that's going to happen. But Dell doesn't have that kind of a loyal fan base.

If there is any way to explain Dell's success, it must be that the company's sheer number of buyers is large enough to sustain high traffic levels. Even then, this news is still troubling. Do people even like Dell anymore? And if they don't, why are they still buying new Dell machines? In the past two weeks, I have met two different women who told me their Dell Inspirons were dying. Coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe Dell machines are notorious for dying – just like another PC manufacturer consumers love to hate.


ACTION ITEMS:

Bullish:

There are no losers in these lists, which means that:

  • Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) is still one very successful company. Hurray?
  • Apple's online presence is growing, giving investors another reason to go long.
  • Amazon.com is growing as well, providing another long opportunity.
Bearish:

If you don't think this data is enough proof to solidify the success of the abovementioned corporations, consider:

Neither Benzinga nor its staff recommend that you buy, sell, or hold any security. We do not offer investment advice, personalized or otherwise. Benzinga recommends that you conduct your own due diligence and consult a certified financial professional for personalized advice about your financial situation.

Follow me @LouisBedigian

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