A new report from cybersecurity company Imperva found huge increases in web traffic for a number of industries ranging from news to retail while also discovering predictably massive decreases in users visiting sports and travel sites. Nadav Avital, head of threat research at Imperva, said in a blog post that Imperva Research Labs has been studying information coming from the company’s customers since the coronavirus pandemic fully took the world by storm.

Since most of the world’s countries began enforcing varying levels of quarantine to fight the spread of the virus, web traffic numbers have become increasingly volatile, with huge swings in traffic numbers based on different industries.

According to Imperva’s report based on weekly traffic averages from January 19 to March 22, news websites have seen a 64% increase in total traffic, while food and beverage sites have experienced a 34% bump. Retail and gaming sites both saw 28% increases in traffic, while government and education sites had 17% and 15% increases, respectively.

“[The retail sector] is experiencing unprecedented demand for its products and services with buying behaviors previously only witnessed during key retail events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and other traditional holidays. With traffic up 28%, we know customers have shifted their buying habits to online shopping driving an unprecedented surge in traffic to their sites,” Avital wrote.

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The report notes that not every industry has seen increases in traffic as one would expect with most people confined to their homes. In addition to steep declines in web traffic for travel and sports websites, there were major decreases in traffic for adult sites as well as automotive-related sites. Imperva’s data also shows minor decreases in web traffic to financial sites and healthcare websites as well.

In an interview, Avital explained that the decline in visitors for travel and sports sites made sense because most countries are putting limitations on flights, and almost all sporting events in the near future have been cancelled.

For the adult category, he theorized that maybe people are concerned about other more pressing issues or that people are confined with their families or children and have no private time to consume such content.

When it comes to traffic to health and financial sites, Avital added that it differed from country to country. Traffic to financial sites in the US remained the same while traffic to financial sites in China dropped by 50%, he noted.

“Any big change in our lives is accompanied by fear and doubt. As such, there was no surprise to see surges in traffic to news, food, and retail sites. However, when people adjust to the new reality, I suspect that these trends will settle down–people will still read the news but not every hour; people will still buy food, but they will stop ‘panic buying,'” he said.

“Since people are getting used to life without leaving their homes, it forces them to change some behavioral patterns. A lot of things are being done online today, including things that were traditionally considered ‘face to face.’ It may be that after the crisis is over, there will be no going back, and so businesses will need to adapt to the new reality. For example, remote studying is becoming the new norm, and it might affect the educational system–the digital platform can lower education fees, attract excellent teachers from foreign countries, and more,” he added.

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