By Daniel Hunter

The web performance of the UK’s top 50 e-tailers continued to slide in Q3, according to NCC Group’s quarterly online retail report. Average speed was down, coupled with an increase in website downtime compared to the first half of 2012.

“We’re approaching the most important time of year for e-tailers, but this indicates that the big players are not at all prepared," Bob Dowson, director of NCC Group’s website performance division, commented.

The report analyses the web performance of the UK’s 50 busiest retail websites in terms of traffic, measuring both the average download speed and website downtime.

The websites averaged a download speed of 6.62 seconds over a connection speed of 2 Mbps; falling significantly short of the 3 second target that most e-tailers aim for. This was a full second slower than in both Q1 and Q2.

The report also showed that website downtime had increased by over 50% - at 3 hours and 29 minutes — up from 2 hours and 5 minutes in the second quarter of 2012.

Dowson continued: “With online retail traffic increasing year on year, e-tailers should be putting more resources into improving their website performance. The statistics from this report are not at all encouraging.

“Website performance for e-tailers really does equate to sales — customers will look elsewhere if sites are unresponsive or slow to load.

“The Christmas period can make or break annual sales figures, so it’s imperative that e-tailers up their game quickly.”

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