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Wal-Mart website hit by outages

The website of retail giant Wal-Mart was hit by intermittent outages on one of the busiest shopping days of the year as it failed to cope with the level of traffic.

Visitors to the Walmart.com experienced delayed searches, blank pages and messages advising them to try again later for most of last Friday – the day after the US Thanksgiving holiday and the traditional start to the festive shopping season in the US.

A spokesperson for the retailer said the problems were caused by a “higher than anticipated traffic surge” as shoppers rushed online.

The Walmart.com crash followed problems at Amazon.com, where a Thanksgiving day special offer on Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game machines brought a brief outage.

The site is expected to attract another surge of visitors this week, which begins with “Cyber Monday” – so-called because of the number of office staff returning to work after the Thanksgiving break who take the opportunity to do a bit of online festive shopping from their desks.

Industry analysts calculate that the Wal-Mart website received more than 22.8 million unique visitors in September, making it the 21st most popular US site.

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