Three of DSGi’s major UK e-commerce sites were down for maintenance for a large part of the day yesterday, with Currys, PC World and Dixons all displaying error messages for visitors.

The retail group is expected to report disappointing like-for-like sales figures this week, and can ill-afford the loss of a day’s online trading in such economic circumstances.

Both sites were down for the majority of the day, and didn’t reappear until this morning. 

A DSGi spokesman told me that this was due to “technical issues after routine maintenance which took a little longer than we
hoped to rectify”,
adding that, as all three sites are on the same e-commerce platform, they all went down at once.

Error messages were displayed on all home pages, while a Google search
gave this result, which did at least save users the trouble of visiting the site.

Exactly how much DSGi lost in potential sales from this ‘maintenance’ is unclear but, based on the fact that its e-commerce sales for the 24 weeks to 18 Oct 2008 amounted to £275.6m (PDF), it is possible that the downtime cost the company a seven-figure sum in lost revenues.

This is similar to the problems which affected Debenhams before Christmas, when its website was unable to keep up with extra demand caused by its sale. On that occasion, rival retailers Next, John Lewis and M&S all benefitted from extra traffic from Debenhams. I’m betting that competitors such as Comet had some extra traffic yesterday.


Robin Goad from Hitwise sent over some stats on the effect of the sites going offline. Both Currys and PC World experienced a drop in traffic, 29.4% and 26.9% respectively. Meanwhile, Comet’s traffic (in yellow) remained the same:

Unsurprisingly, average visit times also decreased. While Comet’s fell only slighty, by 5%, Currys and PC World’s average dropped by 52.4% and 48% respectively: