Cyber Monday booms despite site crashes

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Cyber Monday booms despite site crashes

Shoppers hunting for bargains that didn’t require cutting Thanksgiving meals short or fighting long lines took to the Internet yesterday to buy “‘til their typing-fingers dropped” on Cyber Monday.

The biggest online shopping day of the year was expected to pull in a record $3 billion in sales, experts said. Traffic was expected to be up about 14 percent Monday over last year.

But for some retailers, the day didn’t start smoothly. Upscale specialty food retailer Harry & David, payment operator Paypal and mega retailer Target suffered crashes.

“So sorry but high traffic’s causing delays,” read the greeting to customers who couldn’t connect to target.com. “If you wouldn’t mind holding, we’ll refresh automatically & get things going ASAP. Thank you for your patience!”

Target fans, who had been lured to the site by 15 percent off almost everything in its online store, took to Twitter to complain.

“Hey, @Target, this is not how e-commerce is supposed to work,” wrote Rob Pegoraro.

Another consumer, Nikki Ferrell, posted: “Come on @Target get it together. How am I supposed to order anything on cyber Monday if you can’t keep your website running?”

Target told Bloomberg News its site experienced spikes, but was not down to all visitors.

Analyst Chris Christopher, director of consumer economics at IHS Global Insight in Colorado, said there will be glitches as retailers fine tune how much online network capacity they need to meet demand.

He pointed to the corrective measures parcel carriers such as Atlanta-based UPS have taken since their disastrous holiday season two years ago when they underestimated demand.

“Everyone is relatively new at this,” Christopher said. “They will make mistakes.”

The good news, he said, is that there will be about 6.6 million more paychecks hitting consumers’ wallets than last year, according to a study of payroll trends.

There was a lot on the line for retailers, especially those operating brick-and-mortal stores.

The $3 billion haul for Cyber Monday is expected to outpace online sales for Black Friday, though not by much, according to Adobe Digital Index. Black Friday online sales are expected to generate about $2.7 billion, up 15 percent over 2014, according to ADI.

Bringing in cyber sales would add to the more than 151 million people who said they shopped either in stores or online over the Black Friday weekend, according to survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the National Retail Federation.

Dax Cross, president of Revenue Analytics, said brick-and-mortar retailers are making progress in online sales, but haven’t caught up with Amazon, the 1,000 pound gorilla of the online industry.

“Online shopping continues to be a huge growth driver for brick-and-mortar retailers,” he said. “Big box retailers are generally seeing 10-15 percent annual growth in online sales over last year. This growth represents a greater and greater proportion of their total growth… but their growth rates still trail Amazon’s.”

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