With just over a month to go before Christmas, Apple.com has climbed to unprecedented highs in the Hot Shops List, a ranking of online retailers, in terms of traffic, released regularly by digital analysts Experian Hitwise.
The Hot Shops List released November 21 shows that, since August 2011, Apple has climbed six places and now for the first time ever occupies the number two spot on the list - behind Amazon.
To claim second place, Apple.com, which now accounts for one in every 250 visits from UK internet users, dislodged longstanding runner-up Argos, pushing the department store into third position.
James Murray, a marketing research analyst at Experian Hitwise, attributes Apple.com's rising popularity among UK internet users to a combination of Steve Job's death on October 5 and the launch of the iPhone 4S, stating "the tech world mourned the death of Steve Jobs this quarter but Apple goes on, and the launch of the iPhone 4S helped push Apple to its highest ever ranking."
Amazon, which has been top of the list since 2006, retained pole position, making Apple and Amazon the two most popular online retailers among UK internet users.
According to Hitwise these latest rankings reflects the so called "gadget wars" taking place this Christmas between Amazon's tablet device - the Kindle Fire - and Apple's iPad. Though Hitwise states that the iPad is currently more popular among online consumers, it predicts that the lower price of the Kindle Fire could entice many Christmas shoppers.
Regardless of the outcome of the Kindle Fire-versus-iPad battle for consumers' cash, Amazon and Apple look likely to dominate the retail scene this Christmas in the UK and the US.
Examples of the popularity of these two retailers in the US can be seen in a November 17 Nielsen survey which found that the majority of American children aged over 13 want an iPad for Christmas, and weekly data from Hitwise which shows that Amazon is consistently one of the most visited retail websites by US consumers.