There is always a lot of noise about Black Thursday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the ongoing battle between online and retail store sales. But how big of a difference does this make to the broadband networks used to do the shopping? Much less than you might think….

A GigaOM post details how Amazon is the leader for Black Friday, with almost double the number of users as eBay. A report from CNN claims that practically “all” adults went shopping over the weekend (anyone over 14) either online or at retail outlets. Various reports show that smartphones were used more than tablets, and an IBM report shows that the iPad was the greatest generator of tablet sales by a long shot.

A look at some of our customer sites shows that the volume of traffic to some of the popular websites definitely was higher than normal, as much as 50% higher in terms of volume. From a bandwidth perspective, the traffic was insignificant, totally less than 1% of overall traffic.

This is a look at the first part of the shopping frenzy from Tuesday to Thanksgiving Day from different sites in the US:


Market 2

As you can see, Amazon is the clear leader in both cases, however Best Buy did not do badly either. eBay and Walmart were also successful in generating traffic. Remember that most of this traffic volume is driven by product images, so sites that had more images and larger ones would benefit in this evaluation by using more bandwidth as a result. Product videos are even better!

Then Black Friday through Cyber Monday hit:

Market 2

As you can see, the volume of traffic in both cases went up significantly on Black Friday (nearly doubled), even though it was still a very small overall percentage. The interesting spike for the second market during the middle of the day for Best Buy indicated a specific deal must have attracted interest. Drilling into that specific case:


The deal hit from 12:30 until a little past 3:00 in the afternoon. You can also see that traffic for all of the sites built over time during the day.

Taking a look at one of the sites across the week before and this week, you can see a building over time as the shopping urge hit consumers.

So, did the shopping craze impact networks? Yes, but not as much from a traffic perspective as much as a continuing reminder of the importance of good, fast broadband. I personally saw several instances as I was shopping on Amazon looking for their Instant Deals, where some deals literally came active and disappeared in a matter of seconds. If you had slow or high latency broadband, you might have missed out on some great deals – and Santa wouldn’t like that!

Good luck shopping for the rest of the holiday season.