UK Retailers Fail to Maximize Profits During Busiest Online Shopping Period of the Year

Top UK retail websites struggled to handle peak web traffic during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales period, reveals Borland website performance tool

3 December 2014

Analyst firm Forrester is forecasting record numbers for e-commerce retail, with holiday shopping across the US and Europe approaching $130 billion, but many retailers failed to capitalize on potential profits during the post-Thanksgiving holiday sales rush as they struggled to cope with increased website traffic driven by seasonal promotions. That’s according to live website performance data from Borland.

Despite forecasts that British consumers would spend nearly £6.5k per second and £23.2 million per hour online on flash sales items on Cyber Monday alone, Micro Focus’ website performance tool, Borland Silk WebMeter picked up significant delays in website response times during the period – a problem for any UK retailer looking to capitalize on short-term promotions and optimize seasonal profits.

According to the research, over ten well-known global retailers were affected by the four-day spike in website traffic. Brands such as saw its website performance drop by over 1000% in the lead up to Cyber Monday. The site slowed from an average 1.02 second load time to a 19 second load time when site traffic peaked at 19.30 on the 30th November. Europe also struggled with heavy loads as the site slowed from an average 1.17 second load time to a 17 second load time when traffic peaked at 10.30 on Black Friday. Even the mighty suffered a huge spike with a 55 second load time at 21.30 on 30th November.

Of the retailers monitored, the major supermarkets came out on top, showing their industry colleagues how its done. The Sainsburys, Tesco and Morrisons websites operated extremely well over the four-day shopping period, with an average load time of 0.72, 0.64 and 0.47 seconds respectively.

Those retailers suffering website performance issues could well have lost customers as research suggests that 40% of online shoppers will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. Research has also shown that even minor delays to website response times can have a sizeable impact on customer satisfaction and future shopping habits:

- 24% of customers abandon their online carts due to a website crash

- 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience

- 44% of online shoppers will tell their friends about a bad experience online

“This is the second year running we have monitored retail website performance and the story remains the same,” said Archie Roboostoff, product director at Micro Focus. “Retailers have done a better job than ever of marketing their offers around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but have done themselves a disservice by driving even more traffic to their websites, which were no better prepared this year than they were a year ago.”

Recent research confirms many organizations are unprepared for peak website loads,” continued Roboostoff. “While 79% of 590 global CIOs polled confirmed they are aware of seasonal events that drive web traffic, 44% do not test their websites to see if they could handle the increase in traffic. Comprehensive, real life load testing, which covers all relevant geographies and identifies where performance issues lie is critically important to revenue generation and it’s easier than ever to deploy today with the right cloud-based performance testing software. Retailers should consider deploying this type of technology, which also avoids the need for large capital investment, eliminating the effort and cost related to extending on premise test infrastructure.”

Notes to Editors

Borland’s advanced in-house website performance tool based on Silk Performer technology is available to customers: For more information contact Borland on: 0800-58102130 or

About Borland

Originating in 1983, Borland Software Corporation is a world-class provider of requirements, test and change management solutions. As part of Micro Focus Ltd , a member of the FTSE 250, Borland offers tools that are open, agile and work across the entire Application Development Lifecycle to enable customers to build better software, faster. Visit

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