December 6, 2004 2:24 PM PST

Amazon.com hit with outages

Visitors to Amazon.com's Web site experienced unexpected delays Monday morning and at times couldn't access the site at all.

Throughout the morning Pacific time, visitors to Amazon's site were sometimes greeted with a "Service Unavailable" message, and sometimes a "We're sorry!" note. While an Amazon representative said the issues had been resolved by afternoon, as of 2 p.m. PST, attempts to access Amazon were met with an unavailability message. The site appreared live again at 2:30, however.

"The site was down intermittently this morning," Amazon spokesman Craig Berman confirmed. He declined to explain the source of the problem, saying, "These are complex systems that have problems some times."

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Keynote Systems, which tracks Internet traffic and performance, said Amazon's problems started at 8 a.m. PST time, when outages struck 20 percent of people tapping the site, with the remaining 80 percent experiencing slowdowns of up to a minute. Amazon was back up and running by 9:45, but problems surfaced again at 10:45, according to Keynote.

While the problems largely stopped by 2:40 p.m., Keynote reported sporadic outages affecting a small population of users. Keynote could not determine whether an Internet attack caused the outage, but said the problems only affected Amazon.

"The measurement numbers coming back to norms," said Roopak Patel, senior Internet analyst at Keynote. "The situation hasn't cleared itself completely."

For Amazon, the timing of the slowdown couldn't be worse. With the holiday season in full bloom, the retailer is in the midst of its busiest sales period, and it has promised Wall Street significant financial growth this quarter. Amazon expects sales to jump by at least 31 percent this quarter to between $2.29 billion and $2.54 billion, and full-year sales to increase 31 percent to between $6.67 billion and $6.9 billion.

In the cutthroat retail industry, any holiday hiccup could mean big trouble. Just ask the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart. Its stock took a brief nosedive after the company reported lower-than-expected sales during the Thanksgiving weekend, which is considered the busiest shopping time of the year.

Meanwhile, the nation's brick-and-mortar competitors, including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target and Home Depot, are trying to complement their in-store sales with online offerings.

Nevertheless, as retailers push sales through their Web sites, it's no wonder online shopping continues to boom. Online spending on the day after Thanksgiving (or Black Friday, a reference to the volume of sales that pushes many retailers into profits), reached $250 million, up 41 percent from $178 million in 2003, according to Web statistician ComScore Networks.

On Thanksgiving day, typically a slow shopping day, online sales totaled $133 million, doubling last year's $67 million, ComScore said. Online shopping visitors accounted for 11.39 percent of all Web visits that day, up from 8.96 percent in 2003, according to online-retail tracker Hitwise.

CNET News.com's Matt Hines contributed to this report.

10 comments

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Amazon's Decline?
As of 10:55 pm EST, various parts of Amazon including "Track Packages" are still down. Some Cart Items suddenly moved to "No longer available" status. I have been a loyal Amazon customer for two years now, but will start looking for alternatives for my Christmas shopping.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Thanks for nothing, Amazon!
I had done my online Christmas shopping last week, and was looking forward to logging in yesterday and moving my "Cart" items from "Saved" to "Buy Now." Well, guess what?

Thanks for nothing, Amazon! If my friend's kid doesn't get her "Disney Princess Theater" book, will you buy it for her, Mr. Jeff freakin' Bezos??
Posted by (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Holy Crap!
Some kid might not get a book he wanted for christmas because you dragged your feet?

The horror!!!!

He will survive that crippling blow somehow.
Posted by (40 comments )
Link Flag
blah blah blah
Online shopping is still a relatively new technology. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, computers are still a new technology. And, with new technologies come new problems. They had some problems, and you people are abandoning a business you liked? What if you favorite brick and mortar store had an unavoidable plumbing leak and had to shut down for a few hours to clean up. Would you abandon them forever? If you would, then you are petty and you disgust me. If you like them, then stick with them through hard times, too.
Posted by sdencar (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Agreed.
Some outages are just unavoidable. From what I read here most of the issues were resolved fairly quickly.

As for the shopping cart. I didn't realize that you could leave items in it for an extended period of time and they would remain there. It looks like to me that they would expire or time out after a while.
Posted by Sboston (498 comments )
Link Flag
What is your problem?
You had items in the cart, and while you were deciding to buy, they sold out?

Do you really expect a store to hold merchandise for you when there is a customer in front of them waving money?
Posted by (40 comments )
Reply Link Flag
items in the cart
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/index.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/index.htm</a>
Posted by Ubber geek (325 comments )
Link Flag
OMG!
Oh No! The sky is falling. The first two people are complaining about not being able to get to the site because of people like him who wait till the last minute to do their shopping. If this makes you losers feel any better, it was me, it was me clogging Amazon because I kept hitting refresh to get the XBOX360 deal for $100. And I got one. HAHA. I didn't even have any problems on Amazon that day.
Posted by Gasaraki (183 comments )
Reply Link Flag
OMG!
Oh No! The sky is falling. The first two people are complaining about not being able to get to the site because of people like him who wait till the last minute to do their shopping. If this makes you losers feel any better, it was me, it was me clogging Amazon because I kept hitting refresh to get the XBOX360 deal for $100. And I got one. HAHA. I didn't even have any problems on Amazon that day.
Posted by Gasaraki (183 comments )
Reply Link Flag
dis is ********* :@
Posted by k3d8n (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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