November 28, 2006, 12:00 AM

After a “bumpy” Black Friday, site performance hums on Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday presented few web site performance issues for retailers, according to Keynote. On Black Friday, Walmart.com saw downtime and an XBOX promotion briefly slowed page loads at Amazon.

Keynote Systems reports that Cyber Monday--the Monday after Thanksgiving--presented no significant web site performance issues for site operators or online shoppers, following what it describes as a “very bumpy” Black Friday--the day after Thanksgiving--for some well-known e-retailers.

“In terms of what we are seeing on Cyber Monday, almost all of the major online retailers are performing very well,” says Ben Rushlo, senior manger of competitive research at Keynote. “There have been no major issues, outages or slowdowns, which is in stark contrast to what we saw on Black Friday.”

Keynote identified outages at several leading online retailers on Friday, including more than 10 hours of down time on Walmart.com, which experienced severe slowdowns beginning at 4:30 a.m Eastern Time. The site eventually became unavailable to a majority of users, with normal performance finally restored at 2:30 p.m., according to Keynote. Macys.com also experienced significant slowdowns starting at 5 a.m. Eastern time, with normal performance restored at 2 p.m.

Keynote notes a spike in traffic to Amazon.com shortly after the online retailer announced a promotion for the deeply discounted sale of XBOX 360 on Thanksgiving, in the first of what will be a series of Thursday super deals to run through the holiday season. Despite the spike, Amazon.com has performed well with “only a small period of performance stress when the XBOX promotion was occurring,” says Rushlo.

Though there was no outage at Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites, performance did slow temporarily in connection with the promoted sale. “When we put the XBOX on sale here Thanksgiving at 11 a.m. Pacific, we saw significantly more traffic than we had expected,” an Amazon spokesman says. “We saw page load performance slow down noticeably a little before 11 a.m. Pacific time and that lasted for about 15 minutes. By 11:15, the site page loading speed was back up to normal.”

Site performance rose back to normal as the promoted items sold out and visitors stopped repeatedly refreshing their pages and moved on, the spokesman says. “We certainly took note of what that activity generated from a performance standpoint,” he says. “There are some things we can adjust and be aware of to manage that big spike in traffic-it was dramatically more than we anticipated. And this Thursday when things go on sale again, there will be a lot of people coming again.”

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