UK Internet users broke all search records in December, making 2.7 billion visits to search engines. Driven largely by Christmas shopping and research for products and services, Britons hit the Internet, whilst at the same time breaking the record for online shopping, new data from Experian Hitwise revealed.

Overall, visits to search engines increased 12% from November, as UK users searched for information on the M6 car crash, the Mayan apocalyptic prophecy and Dancing on Ice 2013.

In addition, search activity rose 17% year-on-year, with 400 million more visits going to search engines in December 2012 than in December 2011.

Although the vast majority of users still remained loyal to Google as a search engine, its market share dipped to its lowest in five years. Google lost 2.8% of its share compared to 12 months ago and in December accounted for 88.35% of all UK searches. Still, despite this drop, Google sites are seven times more likely to be used for search that any other sites combined, Experian noted.

Meanwhile, its main competitor, Microsoft´s Bing continued to gain ground, increasing its market share by 1.15% in a year, meaning that its current market share nearly reached 5%. Yahoo also improved its performance and attained a share of 3.58%, up 0.86% compared to the same period in the previous year. Ask sites also made a step forward by adding 0.67% to their market share in 12 months, holding a total of 2.59% in December.