Website performance of online retailers on Black Friday
Develop | Posted November 29, 2010

The holiday shopping season is now officially underway, and it looks like we're off to a great start! comScore reported a 28 percent increase in online spending on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 25), and e-commerce sales were up on Black Friday as well. Hopefully these numbers are indicative of positive overall sales growth during the holiday season.

Strong online sales performance no doubt was aided by retailers' strong website performance on Turkey Day and throughout the weekend. As we told you last week, we've been monitoring the performance of some of your favorite online retailers. To do so, we recreated the steps most of you take when shopping online. We recorded a simple transaction that monitored the home page, search, add-to-cart, and proceed-to-checkout functions.

Here are the results. Eleven retail sites delivered 100 percent availability this weekend: Banana Republic, Gap, Office Depot, QVC, Williams-Sonoma, Lane Bryant, Sears, DSW, Lands' End, and Fashion Bug.

There were a few issues, however.

  • Express experienced a little bit of trouble right out of the gate. Between noon and 2 a.m. EST on Thanksgiving Day (that's 14 hours), the site had problems with its shopping cart. The success rate for our recorded transaction was only 21 percent. Then, between 11:30 a.m. and 1:05 p.m. on Black Friday, the site went down completely.
  • Between 5 a.m. and 12:05 p.m. on Friday, Lowe's was unable to complete the transaction as well.
  • For most of the day on Friday (from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.), JCPenney was delivering extremely slow response times (over 90 seconds) that caused page timeouts. The transaction success rate was 23.33 percent during this time.
  • Apple underwent site maintenance very early on Black Friday between the hours of 1:30 a.m. and 3:15 a.m.
  • On Friday between 12:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m., and then again on Sunday from 4:15 a.m. to 6 a.m., Victoria's Secret was unavailable.
  • American Eagle was unavailable from 4:15 p.m. on Black Friday to 1:15 a.m. Saturday morning , and then again on Sunday from 1:55 a.m. to 4:15 a.m.
  • Cabela's also experienced brief availability issues on Saturday from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m.

We're going to keep these monitors active throughout the holiday season, and are particularly curious to see how these sites perform today, Cyber Monday. Check back later for updates!

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