Heavy online shopping took a toll on website performance

Many leading retailers’ websites faltered on Thanksgiving and Black Friday as online sales climbed

U.S. consumers shopped big on Thanksgiving and the day after the holiday, but many retailers' websites couldn't keep up with the heavy loads.

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On the positive side, online shopping sales jumped 39.3% on Thanksgiving and 24.3% on Black Friday compared to the same days last year, according to IBM. Unfortunately, a number of leading retailers' websites ran slow and suffered periodic outages during the online shopping feast, according to data from Compuware Gomez.

Compuware keeps tabs on retail website performance via its Gomez Performance Satisfaction Index (GPSI). Overall, the top 50 retailers displayed on average a 19% degradation in performance satisfaction during the time period beginning at 8:00 pm ET on Thursday and ending at 8:00 am ET Friday, Compuware reports. Performance improved somewhat on the day after Thanksgiving, when the top 50 retailers displayed an 11% degradation in performance satisfaction for the entire day on Black Friday.

For the full day on Black Friday, from 12:00 am ET to 11:59 pm ET, here are some of the key findings of Compuware's GPSI:

  • 43 of the top 50 retailers (86%) had lower GPSI scores on Black Friday than the baseline, and 6 of the top 10 retailers (60%) had lower GPSIs on Black Friday;
  • Page load time (response time) spiked by 21% for the top 50 retailers and by 11% for the top 10;
  • The top-ranking e-commerce websites on Black Friday were JC Penney, Apple and Dell;
  • Mobile websites for the top retailers held steady, with only one retailer's site showing a decrease in performance satisfaction on Black Friday; and
  • The top-ranking e-commerce mobile sites on Black Friday were Sears, Amazon and BestBuy.

With Cyber Monday upon us, will retail websites perform?

SEE ALSO: Shoppers with iPads spend more 

Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at @annbednarz and check out her blog, Occupational Hazards. Her e-mail address is abednarz@nww.com.

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