Wal-Mart site knocked offline by traffic

No. 1 retailer says Black Friday customers overwhelm the site; temporary outages continue into afternoon.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Web site for Wal-Mart, the world's No. 1 retailer, was periodically unavailable on one of the busiest shopping days of the year "due to a higher than anticipated traffic surge," a Wal-Mart representative said Friday.

At approximately 6 a.m. ET on Black Friday, Wal-Mart (Charts) online shoppers received a message that read "Walmart.com is temporarily unavailable while we make important upgrades to our site."

Customers seeking specials like these contributed to the "traffic surge" on the site.

The Web site was up and down throughout the morning and afternoon, at times displaying a text-only version with no images.

An e-mail response to inquiries to the site said: "We sincerely apologize that our website and systems were not available during your recent visit to Walmart.com... we are presently working as quickly as possible to update our website and customer service systems."

According Alexa.com, a website traffic monitoring service, www.wal-mart.com is the 7th most popular shopping website on the internet.

The company launched the site in February 1995.

Earlier this month, the company announced its biggest price cut ever, temporarily reducing prices on about 50 name-brand home appliances.

For the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, sales are projected at $312.4 billion.

According to the company Wal-Mart accounts for 3.5 percent of the global economy of retail, an industry of roughly $465 billion. Wal-Mart competes with such domestic giants as Target (Charts), Costco (Charts) and Kohl's (Charts).

-- by CNN's Katy Byron


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