Black Friday 2016: The Fastest and Slowest eCommerce Sites

In Blog - The Performance Insider by Josh Carter / November 28, 2016

Web sales on Black Friday totaled $3.34 billion this year. That’s up 21.6% from 2015.

With sky-high traffic levels (9% increase from Black Friday 2015) and hordes of shoppers going through checkout processes at once, at least one major retailer suffers a site outage during the 4-day Black Friday weekend. 2014 was Best Buy, 2015 was Neiman Marcus and Target. And 2016? Macy’s.

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Macy’s, Express, Victoria’s Secret, Williams-Sonoma, Guess, and Newegg were among the retailers that experienced major performance issues on Black Friday – issues that could have been avoided with further preparation and capacity planning.

While most websites avoided downtime, many slowed down significantly on Black Friday, resulting in customer abandonment and lost revenue. Just a 0.4 second slow-down during last year’s holiday weekend (Black Friday through Cyber Monday) cost one of our customers over $1.3M.

Who slowed down on Black Friday?

Home Page Speed Change (compared to October 28)
Site October 28 Speed
(in seconds)
Black Friday Speed
(in seconds)
Percent Change (%)
AMI Clubwear 2.48 3.79 52.8%
Office Depot 3.61 5.18 43.5%
Sweetwater 2.84 3.98 40.1%
Dover Saddlery 2.0 2.79 39.5%
Oriental Trading 3.87 5.32 37.5%
PromGirl 1.51 2.06 36.4%
Babyhaven.com 2.46 3.32 36.0%
Jimmy Jazz 3.07 4.08 32.9%
Hanna Andersson 2.31 2.99 29.4%
Paul Fredrick 4.58 5.74 25.3%

Fastest on Black Friday

Home Page Speed (Fastest)
Site Home Page Speed
(in seconds)
Kmart 0.78
GameFly 0.83
Camping World 0.83
Neiman Marcus 0.86
Jomashop 0.91

Slowest on Black Friday

Home Page Speed (Fastest)
Site Home Page Speed
(in seconds)
Sally Beauty Supply 7.34
Under Armour 7.10
Beachbody 7.09
Ashford.com 6.82
The Honest Company 6.82

The lessons learned (again)

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin

I recently chatted with an eCommerce executive that said: “We knew Black Friday was coming. We brought this on ourselves.” Last minute preparation seems to be a trend among many retailers. Both development and marketing planning for the holidays should begin by mid-Summer to avoid the lessons we have learned yet again this year. (outages, slow-downs)

Preparing for a performant holiday season involves more than just capacity planning; year-round analysis of shoppers, their experiences, and the speeds they receive throughout a website is vital to be successful and remain competitive. Measuring performance from both a technical and business perspective allows eCommerce sites to focus holiday preparation on the areas that matter most to their bottom line. For example, if speeding up a site’s Product pages by 1 second will generate $2M more per month to a business than speeding up their Home page by the same amount, the site’s development team can clearly prioritize their efforts. Only Blue Triangle can provide these business insights into web performance. Learn more here.

Josh Carter
Director of Marketing at Blue Triangle Technologies
Josh is a total nerd for web performance. As Blue Triangle's Director of Markering, he enjoys sharing information about ways businesses can realize their full revenue potential. He is also an avid swimmer, drummer, and pizza connoisseur.