Tracking How Many Consumers Flee During A Site Meltdown

Following a site meltdown by a major U.K. retailer this month, Internet traffic tracking firm Hitwise was able to document and make concrete what has always been assumed: Consumers abandon a retail site when it melts down faster than politicians vote for a tax cut. When Debenhams' site suffered severely during a well-publicized late November sale, the percent of its downstream traffic that went to competing retailers jumped from 33.2 percent to 46.9 percent, according to a nicely detailed Hitwise post.

"Looking at the top individual retail Web sites that received traffic from last week, the biggest beneficiaries were Marks & Spencer (which accounted for 4.6 percent of downstream visits, up from 2.8 percent the previous week), Next (2.2 percent) and John Lewis (1.7 percent)," said the posting written by Hitwise Research Director Robin Goad.