The online shopping crunch really happened on Thanksgiving night, according to one Web metrics firm, with more sites experiencing peak loads at that point.
Major online retailers comfortably weathered "Cyber Monday," the Monday after Thanksgiving that's often designated as the e-shopping equivalent of "Black Friday, a Web performance service said Tuesday.
According to AlertSite, which is tracking response times and availability for 20 top online retail sites during the holiday selling season, big-name e-tailers such as Dell, eBay, Buy.com, Amazon.com, and WalMart.com ran smoothly during the day. Fifteen of the 20 sites showed 100 percent uptime, with the remaining five--Staples, ToysRUs, Bed Bath & Beyond, Overstock.com, and Target--available 99.8 percent of the time.
"These home pages held up remarkably well," said Ken Godskind, vice president of marketing at Coconut Creek, Fla.-based AlertSite.
Dell and eToys led the response time chart, with average load times of 1.8 and 2.1 seconds, respectively. The 20-site average of 4.14 seconds, in fact, was less than the previous Monday's 4.18 seconds.
Which gave Godskind cause to dismiss the whole idea of Cyber Monday.
"Cyber Monday was a dud," he said. "The numbers show that the traffic was within the expected range that these sites have scaled to handle.
'The online shopping surge actually came Thursday night, Thanksgiving, around 9 p.m. (EST)," he added. "That's when the load was outside expectations for several sites."
BestBuy.com was the most egregious example, noted Godskind. On Thursday between 6 p.m. and midnight, BestBuy was available to only about 25 percent of the customers who headed to its home page. "BestBuy had a significant number of accessibility problems Thursday and Friday, and sporadic time outs on Saturday and Sunday."
CompUSA.com was another electronics retailer that couldn't handle the heat. According to AlertSite's data, it was accessible to 75 percent of customers between 8 p.m. and midnight on Thursday.
Cyber Monday's premise is built on the assumption that consumers wait to shop online until they return to their workplaces' faster Internet connections. If it was once true, said Godskind, it doesn't seem to be now, what with the larger number of homes equipped with broadband.
"People aren't waiting, they're [online] shopping on Thanksgiving," he concluded.
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