Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s http://walmart.com Web site was back up on Thursday after an unusually lengthy outage that put one of the largest online shopping sites out of commission overnight.

The site, which ranks as the No. 2 U.S. department store shopping destination on the Web, according to Internet traffic measurement service Hitwise, had displayed a message saying that the online store was "temporarily closed."

Amy Colella, a spokeswoman for walmart.com, said the retailer shut the Web site for routine maintenance late on Wednesday but the site was down for much longer than usual because of what she called a "minor incident." She declined to elaborate on the incident.

Colella said walmart.com performs routine maintenance overnight every few months but the site is normally back up and running "in the very early hours of the morning."

"This was more of an isolated incident," she said.

Della Lowe, a spokeswoman for Internet performance tracking service Keynote Systems Inc., said that her preliminary data showed that walmart.com had suffered an 11-hour outage.

The site slowed from a normal response time of two to three seconds to 23 seconds starting around midnight EDT Thursday (0400 GMT), and then stopped working completely until 11:00 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT).

"We don't think it was a malicious attack," Lowe said. "It may have been a configuration error," she said, referring to potential internal site administration issues at Wal-Mart. "The site was not overloaded by visitors from the outside."

Walmart.com is among the 50 most heavily visited sites in the United States, according to Hitwise.

Wal-Mart was slow to embrace the dot-com world and its Web site has never matched the success of its bricks-and-mortar chain, by far the largest in the world. Wal-Mart does not disclose its online sales.

"Compared to the store base they have it's (the Web site) a minuscule portion of the company," said Bill Dreher, retail analyst with Deutsche Bank.

Shares of Wal-Mart were up 35 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $50.48 in afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange.


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