Panopta Detects Significant Downtime for 45 Percent of 130+ Top Retail Websites

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Monitoring service identifies potentially costly problem areas for major retail websites ahead of holidays

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Downtime in a high traffic period like the holiday shopping season can be catastrophic to a company.

Panopta (, a global website and application availability monitoring service provider, analyzed more than 130 major retailer’s websites for outages from January through August 2012 and found that many sites suffered significant downtime. With the National Retail Federation’s projecting online sales to reach $96 billion this holiday season, unplanned outages could have a significant impact on sales and revenue. In its March 2012 report, “Datacenter Downtime: How Much Does It Really Cost?,” Aberdeen Group reported that the average cost of downtime increased 65 percent from June 2010 to February 2012 to climb to approximately $165,000/hour.

Panopta found more than 45 percent of the analyzed sites’ uptime fell below the 99.9 percent industry standard of acceptable availability, with the lowest uptime percentage reaching 99.34 percent and equaling more than 38 hours of downtime. In an attempt to remove scheduled maintenance as a factor, Panopta excluded downtime between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. ET, making the high levels of downtime for major retailers even more egregious.

“Many factors can cause an outage, but most are preventable,” said Jason Abate, CEO and Founder of Panopta. “Downtime in a high traffic period like the holiday shopping season can be catastrophic to a company. When a site isn’t available, consumers often buy elsewhere leaving the door open for a competitor and hurting the good will a brand has worked hard to establish with customers.”

Downtime can have consequences beyond the loss of sales. From a marketing standpoint, downtime can significantly damage a website’s rank on search engine results pages. Downtime can also impact advertising return on investment, wasting money when consumers cannot view or purchase an advertised item. The continued growth of social media can exacerbate damage to a brand caused by downtime as users share their frustrations with their extensive networks. As the news of these frustrations spread, brands must devote valuable resources to mitigating the effects and addressing user complaints.

“If retailers haven’t already completed their scheduled maintenance for the holiday season, now is the time,” said Abate. “It’d be wise for those brands who have struggled with downtime to correct those problems now before the stakes climb further during the holidays.”

Of the number of major retailers that performed poorly during the analysis, Gamefly, Blockbuster, Home Depot, Sears, Fossil and J&R fared among the worst. On the other hand, a number of major brands registered no downtime at all, including American Eagle, Bloomingdale’s, Ikea, Overstock and Sam’s Club. Visit for the full results.

For the third consecutive year, Panopta will monitor major retailer website uptime during the holiday shopping season with the Panopta Availability Index. The site provides a real-time look at which sites are currently unavailable. Last year’s top performers with 100 percent uptime included many of the same sites which suffered no unscheduled downtime in the 2012 pre-holiday analysis, perhaps signaling sustained success this holiday season.

While there are outliers, such as which performed poorly throughout 2011 but suffered no major outages during the holiday season, it appears that website performance for the first three quarters of the year is predictive of success levels during the holiday season. While all retailers need to prepare for increased traffic volume this holiday season, those who have struggled with site performance throughout the year are most at risk for downtime and the consequences which come along with it.

About Panopta
Through real-time performance monitoring, Panopta provides IT professionals and hosts reliable, actionable data for optimizing website and application availability, as well as managing service disruptions. Panopta monitors websites, email servers and network infrastructure for thousands of customers in a variety of key market segments. It serves as a trusted source of website and online application monitoring and provides independent analysis based on objective data. For more information, please visit

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Nick Olsen
PReturn Inc.
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