Target Site Stumbles on Cyber Monday, Locking Out Some Users

Cyber Monday Surge Causes Outages at Target, PayPal
  • Website goes down as traffic hits new record for retailer
  • Total Cyber Monday online sales expected to increase 18%

Target Corp. struggled to handle a surge of e-commerce traffic on Cyber Monday, its biggest day for online sales, making the website inaccessible to some users.

Target.com offered 15 percent off almost everything on Monday, bringing a flood of traffic that was twice as high as its previous busiest day, the Minneapolis-based company said in a statement. To manage the volume, Target is metering traffic and working to ensure all customers are able to get on the website.

Some visitors to Target’s site were greeted with the message: “Please hold tight. So sorry, but high traffic’s causing delays.” But at no point was the website unavailable to all users, the company said.

“As we experience spikes in traffic, our systems place guests in a queue,” said Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder. “We apologize to guests who experience any delays, we appreciate their patience, and encourage them to try again in a few minutes by refreshing their browser.”

The outage comes at a bad time for Target, which is making a bigger play for e-commerce shoppers -- especially on Cyber Monday. The event marks the first workday after the Thanksgiving weekend and is typically one of the busiest days for shopping online. To encourage customers to buy from Target’s website, the retailer has been offering free shipping for the second holiday season in a row.

Target shares fell 1.3 percent to $72.50 in New York trading.

Neiman Marcus

Neiman Marcus Group Inc. also suffered e-commerce trouble in recent days. The department-store chain’s website crashed on Friday and Saturday, forcing it to extend Black Friday deals into Sunday. The company said on Monday that it didn’t think hackers caused the problems.

“Our site outages caused an inconsistent shopping experience over the weekend,” Ginger Reeder, a spokeswoman for Dallas-based Neiman Marcus, said in an e-mail. “We have seen no reason to suspect outside interference or sabotage, however the exact cause of the outage has yet to be determined.”

Online sales on Cyber Monday may rise at least 18 percent for all retailers from a year earlier, according to forecasts by International Business Machines Corp.

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