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UK retailers’ ability to keep sites up during peak times shows marked improvement

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How did Britain’s top retail sites perform under the pressure of heaving online shopping baskets on Monday, 30 November? Website monitoring specialist Keynote Systems has compared their performance on Monday, 30 November with Mega Monday 2008 and found some significant improvements.

“In the run up to Christmas, it is particularly important that retailers are able to cope with the increased demand that is being placed on them,” says Keynote. “Figures show that compared to last year’s “Mega Monday” results, almost all of the household names monitored have improved their site performance and availability.”

The results show that Selfridges was by far the best performing site of the thirteen top retailers monitored by Keynote, with a download speed of 0.79 seconds and 100 percent availability. Nine other sites also achieved 100% availability — Argos, BHS, Debenhams, Hamleys, House of Fraser,, Selfridges, Tesco Direct and Toys R Us. Amazon (99.61%), Littlewoods (99.2%) and HMV (89.2%) all failed to achieve 100% availability but this is still a marked improvement on last year when only seven of the thirteen achieved 100% uptime.

“In the run up to Christmas many websites struggle to cope with the demand during peak periods,” says Keynote’s Carina Hoogeveen. “This is more often than not the result of either a lack of planning, the use of outdated load testing tools, or both. It is clear that many retailers in the UK have improved their performance since last year as more and more shoppers move online, however several large brands are still lagging behind their competitors.”

“Consistency is the key, especially if your only presence is online — particularly at times like these as consumers have neither the time nor patience to waste on poorly performing websites,” she added. “Just as there is no point in having an extremely fast site if it is only available 80 percent of the time, it’s pointless running a site with 100 percent uptime if the pages take too long to load on the end-user’s browser. In today’s harsh economic climate, consumers expect everything about their experience to be right — and will click away at the first sign of non-responsiveness.”

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