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Wal-Mart website struggles with traffic

NEW YORK -- High traffic disrupted Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s website for much of yesterday , one of the year's busiest shopping days.

The troubles came a day after Amazon.com Inc.'s site had brief disruptions because of a Thanksgiving Day sale on Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 video game machines.

For much of yesterday morning, attempts to open Walmart.com resulted in blank pages, delays, or other problems. By early afternoon, visitors were simply told to come back later.

Walmart.com spokeswoman Amy Colella blamed a "higher than anticipated traffic surge."

The site appeared to be back to normal midafternoon.

"People who wanted to purchase one of those plasma TVs . . . they probably went to a competitor potentially," said Ben Rushlo, senior manager of competitive research at Keynote Systems Inc.

Keynote, which regularly monitors performance at leading websites , said its probes began detecting problems at about 4:30 a.m. Throughout the morning, visitors still could access portions of the site but generally ran into difficulty before completing purchases.

For instance, searches that normally take a second or two were taking 30 or 40 seconds, Rushlo said, and attempts to log in or pay for purchases sometimes generated error messages.

Walmart.com is the 21st most popular site in the United States, with 22.8 million unique visitors in September, according to comScore Media Metrix.

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