Wal-Mart, the globe’s largest bricks and mortar retailer, began its inexorable climb toward the top online spot in December, entering the US Top Fifty Web and Digital Media Properties at number 41 with seven million unique visitors to its shopping site.

The retailer’s entry into the chart - produced by Jupiter Media Metrix unit AdRelevance - coincides [and is probably due to] its concomitant surge in online advertising – up from 37 million impressions in November to 178m in December. The main beneficiaries of Wal-Mart’s largesse were the Yahoo! and Excite@Home networks.

Other etail climbers in the Top 50 include E-greetings Network (up 35%), eToys (+ 16%) and Barnes & Noble(+12%), while traffic at AOL’s proprietary shopping channel increased 8% from 10.9m unique visitors in November to 11.7m in December.

The second highest percentage increase during December was recorded by The Weather Channel, up from 37% in November to 12.5m, probably attributable to the severe nationwide storm season that left travelers stranded across the US.

News source: Advertising Age - Interactive Daily