"Star Wars" fans last month brought a buying frenzy to the web, opening their wallets for movie tickets and toys featuring characters of the beloved science-fiction epic, a research firm said Thursday.
The May 19 premier of the prequel "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith" was the force behind a 12 percent spike in visitors to movie sites, ComScore Networks said in its monthly report on consumer activity on the web. During the week the film was released, more than 25.2 million Americans visited movie sites, the highest weekly total so far this year.
For the full month, 58.5 million people went to film sites, boosting traffic at nearly all the top ticket merchants, ComScore said. Moviefone, which partnered with the official StarWars.com site, drew 15.3 million visitors, an increase of 29 percent over the same month last year. Yahoo Movies saw a 26 percent boost from a year ago to 12.5 million visitors. Fandango and MovieTickets.com rose 65 percent and 75 percent, respectively.
In the toys category, the "Star Wars" phenomenon sent fans scrambling for action figures of their favorite characters. EntertainmentEarth.com, which specializes in the toys, featured "Star Wars" figures and novelties and saw its traffic jump 90 percent. Lego.com, which also featured toys from the galactic epic, experienced a 52 percent rise in the number of visitors.
Nevertheless, the love of mom helped make flowers, gifts and greetings the top-gaining retail category for the month. Mother's Day, graduation and weddings fueled a 30 percent jump to 43.8 million unique visitors, ComScore said.
Online spending on flowers and gifts for the week that ended on Mother's Day, May 8, totaled $144.5 million, a 27 percent increase from the same period last year, ComScore said.
The top five properties in terms of unique visitors for the month were the Yahoo network, 165.4 million; Time Warner Network, 117.9 million; MSN-Microsoft sites, 110.5 million; Google sites, 81.5 million; and EBay, 64.3 million.