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42% of online gift shoppers have abandoned sites that load too slowly

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A new study of 1,500 consumers' experience of shopping for gifts online has found that the majority are continuing to experience 'virtual' queues at online shops in the run up to Christmas.

The new Seasonal Web Sales study, from web hosting provider Fasthosts Internet, found that 80% of shoppers encounter slow working websites around Christmas and 30% believe that websites perform more slowly in the run-up to the holiday season. An alarming 42% of consumers have abandoned purchases on slow running sites while buying their gifts, and 34% are more likely to switch to a competitor's website during this period.

Around one third of consumers believe that retailer websites work more slowly at Christmas than at other times of the year. A total of 44% of shoppers have faced delays in the ecommerce process, including slower product searches, delayed payment processes and delays in receiving emailed confirmations. One in four shoppers (24%) also believe that retailers add too many seasonal products and offers to their websites, and so make the sites more difficult to navigate.

A significant number of Britons will sidestep brand loyalty in favour of speed and abandon a preferred retailer's site for a competitor's website because of the pressure of Christmas shopping, the survey found. One in three shoppers (34%) admit to being more likely to abandon a slow-running retail website at Christmas than at other times of the year — and 28% of shoppers admit to feeling more negative towards retailers as a result.

Women were found to be more inclined to switch to an alternative if they are experiencing problems with a retailer's website (44%, compared to 39% of men).

"The data shows that whilst many firms sell successfully online, usability can take a real knock at the most crucial time of the year," says Fasthosts' Steve Holford . "Shoppers today are more impatient and unforgiving than ever before, and are ready to source an alternative. Retailers must ensure that their hosting responds dynamically with increases in demand or they will lose revenue and reputation".

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