Apple has overtaken Tesco into fourth place in the IMRG Experian Hot Shops survey, which highlights the most popular UK retail websites.

The upwards surge by the iPhone and iPad manufacturer was representative of the UK electrical sector as a whole with Currys and Comet also rising up the list of the top 50 online businesses.

The quarterly research was based around online activity in January 2011 in comparison with November 2010.

Amazon.co.uk, Argos and Play.com were the top three most popular websites, while Amazon.com, Next, John Lewis, Your M&S and easJet completed the top 10.

easyJet was the highest ranked of the travel sector, with Thomas Cook, First Choice, Thomson, Travel Republic and British Airways all making significant headway up the table during the quarter. Given the adverse weather experienced during winter 2010 this is not a huge surprise with many consumers planning trips to warmer climbs.

Robin Goad, Director of Research at Experian Hitwise, said “As we expected travel brands have had an excellent quarter and are benefiting from increased consumer searches for Easter breaks and summer holidays.

“The January VAT increase has also spurred consumers to buy expensive electronic goods in December, though there is likely to be a backlash next quarter as a result of the new 20% VAT rate.

“What we saw over Christmas was that fashion retailers are increasingly relying on social media to deliver traffic to their websites and the announcement of an ASOS.com store on Facebook this January is an exciting development for online retail.

“Taking this into account, the fashion brands should recover quickly from this quarter’s dip in performance.”

The most improved brands when compared with the same period in 2010 were Sainsbury’s, Ikea and House of Fraser.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com