An analysis of web traffic figures for October shows that traffic gains benefit retailers at the top, while smaller merchants experience big declines.

October can be a live-or-die type of month for many Halloween-focused merchants.

For some online retailers, the month was ghoulish, as an analysis of web traffic patterns suggests that much of the growth in web traffic volume went to Amazon.com Inc. and others at the very top of the e-commerce ranks.

Internet Retailer analyzed web traffic data from web measurement firm SimilarWeb on 12 online merchants that do a lot of business in the runup to the October holiday. These retailers include niche Halloween sites like SpiritHalloween.com and HalloweenExpress.com, larger party supply and craft stores like PartyCity.com and Joann.com, and major mass merchant players like Amazon.com and Walmart.com that sell a wide variety of goods.

The only three merchants to grow traffic in October versus last year were Amazon.com, Walmart.com and eBay.com. The rest experienced web traffic declines, with the smallest and most focused on Halloween products alone—SpiritHalloween.com, HalloweenCostumes.com, BuyCostumes.com and HalloweenExpress.com—suffering year-over-year declines near 50%.

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Brad Butler, chief operating officer at HalloweenExpress.com, disputes the exact figures from SimilarWeb, and says traffic to his site declined 11% in October compared with 2016. Sales and profits were up, however.

“We attribute the lower traffic to the fact that we had fewer retail stores,” Butler says. “The retail stores generate a lot of traffic in terms of using the locator and general product research.”

The remaining e-retailers could not be reached immediately for comment.

Halloween Express had some success leading up to Halloween with its in-store pickup options, which started five years ago as a way to compete against rivals like Party City, No. 236 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500, and Spirit Halloween. The system allows Halloween Express shoppers to browse live inventory at 80 stores around the country, place orders and ship items not in stock to stores for free.

Not surprisingly, the five mass merchant sites analyzed—Amazon.com (No. 1 in the Top 500), eBay.com, AliExpress.com, Walmart.com (No. 3) and Target.com (No. 20)—towered above the remaining seven sites in terms of total traffic in October.

On the bright side, the four Halloween-focused merchants each had a large boost in traffic in October when compared with the rest of the year thus far. Two of them grew website visits more than 300% compared with an average month. PartyCity.com also drove big gains in October, with traffic more than doubling.

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Michaels.com and Joann.com (No. 308), on the other hand, experienced fewer site visits than they did in a typical month. Walmart.com, Amazon.com, eBay.com and Target.com all experienced modest gains during the month.

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