November 26, 2007, 12:00 AM

Most sites are up to the shopping challenge this year, Keynote reports

Although 10 of 30 sites that Keynote Systems tracks for its Holiday Retail Index experienced slowdowns in response time Friday, they were not serious enough to affect the shopping experience. One exception: Sears.com was down during peak shopping hours.

Ten of the 30 sites that web site performance monitoring company Keynote Systems Inc. tracks for its Holiday Retail Index experienced significant slowdowns in response time on Friday. Unlike last year when several high-profile sites suffered downtime on the day after Thanksgiving, the slowdowns were not serious enough this year to affect the shopping experience, Keynote says.

The exception was Sears Holdings Corp.’s Sears.com, No. 7 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, which suffered outages for most of the day Friday. Sears reports that higher than expected traffic and some technical difficulties resulted in the site being down. A spokesman says the site was fully functional by the end of the day.

“All sites are experiencing some slow-down, which is natural given the increased number of online shoppers today. The average site’s slow-down is almost imperceptible to the consumer with high-speed access,” says Shawn White, director of external operations for Keynote. “However, those sites that experience significant slow-down usually will have problems with their product search, product information and check-out processes. We saw close to a dozen sites with such problems today.”

At eBay Inc.’s Shopping.com, traffic from the comparison shopping site to merchants increased 61% on Friday over Friday a year ago. EBay’s PayPal unit reports that from 2003 to 2006 shopping on Thanksgiving increased 70%.

EBay reports that the most popular games at Shopping.com and eBay.com were Webkinz Pet Toys, Kidcraft Fashion Dollhouse and Dora the Explorer ABC Game. The most popular home products were George Foreman Next Grilleration Grill, Cuisinart Classic 7 Cup Food Processor, and Cuisinart BrewCentral 12-Cup Coffee Maker. In the consumer electronics category, the most popular products were: Nintendo Wii video game console, Microsoft Zune 80 GB mp3 player, and the Garmin StreetPilot c550 portable GPS device.

Sales on Friday at BabyAge.com, No. 280 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, were up 400% over the average Friday in the fourth quarter, president Jack Kiefer tells InternetRetailer.com.

ShopLocal.com, a search engine for local shopping which posts retailers’ fliers online, reported an 84% rise in traffic to retailers’ online circular sites over last year’s online activity on Wednesday and Thanksgiving.

ShopLocal reports that consumers’ activity increased on the retailers’ online circular sites as early as 9 a.m. on Wednesday and peaked from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, with a total of almost 267 million page views, due in part to earlier store opening hours the following day. During the peak hour, visitors viewed 10.9 million pages, an increase of 89% over last year.

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