By and  on July 15, 2005

DALLAS — Wal-Mart's Internet site, one of the biggest online stores with more than 1 million visitors on an average day, was shut down for about 11 hours Thursday.

The site displayed a message that said it was "temporarily closed."

Amy Colella, a spokeswoman for walmart.com, based in Brisbane, Calif., said the Web site had been closed for routine maintenance, although it was down for a longer period than anticipated because of a "minor issue at the end of our scheduled maintenance period." Colella did not specify the nature of the incident.

"We quickly resolved the matter," she said. "It was a minor issue and an isolated incident. We tracked it at the end of our scheduled maintenance. We made a decision and felt that it was a very logical, smart decision to extend the maintenance window."

The site began having problems about midnight (Eastern Daylight Time) and wasn't back in operation until around 11 a.m. Thursday, said Della Lowe, a spokeswoman for Keynote Systems, which monitors Web site service.

"We don't think it's a malicious attack," Lowe said. "It wasn't suggestive of that. But it was obviously unavailable."

Colella said walmart.com does routine maintenance every couple of months and is normally back online by the early morning.

The Wal-Mart site recorded 2004 sales of $782.2 million, according to trade publication Internet Retailer,

Experts said the duration of the shutdown was surprising.

"Web sites in the retail arena are usually operable and available for consumers to make purchases 98.2 percent of the time," said Patti Freeman Evans, e-commerce analyst for Jupiter Research Inc. of New York. "It's very rare that they're not available. Scheduled outages are usually around 4 or 5 a.m. at the least trafficked times ... they probably lost some business."

Dave Hogan, chief information officer for the National Retail Federation in Washington, said, "Scheduled maintenance usually takes two to four hours. It's very unusual for a site to be down that long."

— With contributions from Denise Power, Chicago

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