Visits by UK-based surfers to the Apple website increased five-fold between August and October with Apple accounting for one in every 250 visits online in October 2011.

That's according to data from web metrics firm Experian Hitwise and IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group), which released the Hot Shops List for the last quarter, putting Apple in second place.

So popular was Apple's site that it displaced Argos from the top two for the first time since the Hot Shops list was started in 2006. Amazon UK and Argos have dominated the list since its inception but Apple's climb from eighth to second upset the status quo.

"The sad passing of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs not only had an effect on visits to the Apple website but also helped raised awareness of pancreatic cancer, with a seven-fold increase in searches after his death," said James Murray, Marketing and Research Analyst for Experian Hitwise UK.

"As well as Jobs’ death, the launch of the new iPhone 4S pushed UK Internet traffic to its highest ever levels for Apple with over 14 million visits in October 2011," he continued.

After Amazon, Apple and Argos (pleasing placed in alphabetical order, if you like that sort of thing) came Tesco and Next. In sixth place was M&S, followed by Play.com, Amazon.com, John Lewis and Tesco Direct.

Tina Spooner, Chief Information Officer at IMRG, said: "While the passing of Steve Jobs will undoubtedly have increased traffic levels to the Apple site, the sheer popularity of tablet devices such as the iPad is also a key factor.

"Amazon is expecting their Kindle to be one of their biggest sellers this Christmas, and it will be fascinating to see just how influential tablets become for consumers. IMRG are estimating that £3.72bn will be spent online during the peak activity weeks commencing 28th November and 5th December and, judging by the high risers in the Hot Shops list, fashion retailers could be the big performers this Christmas," she continued.

The Hot Shops List is published quarterly and tracks popularity, as indicated by visits, of sites selling goods and services within the IMRG Capgemini Index Classification.