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Cyber Monday crowds crush Target, PayPal sites

Online shoppers found technical difficulties on Cyber Monday, with Target's (TGT) site intermittently unable to handle traffic and PayPal (PYPL) also hit by outages, according to consumer tweets and stores.

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"Well it appears our payment processor PayPal is down right now. Too many Cyber Monday purchases out there? We will post a notice when it is back up and running, hopefully in a few minutes," the Ugly Sweater store posted on its Facebook page at about 9:30 a.m. Eastern.

Dozens took to Twitter to vent when unable to complete their purchases.

Informing consumers on its home page that heavy traffic was causing delays, discount retailer Target's site was not functioning for bouts of time periods On Monday, with the company asking customers to "please hold tight."

By early afternoon, Target's online volume was already twice as high as that tallied on its busiest day, or Black Friday, Jamie Bastian, a spokeswoman for the retailer said.

"As we experience spikes in traffic, our systems place guests in a queue and prompt them to access the site later," Bastian said in an email. "We apologize to guests who experience any delays, we appreciate their patience, and encourage them to try again in a few minutes by refreshing their browser."

The issues with PayPal were first reported at around 8:35 a.m. Eastern, according to the Down Detector website, which showed a heat map displaying the troubles in North America and Europe.

"Earlier today, PayPal experienced a brief, intermittent interruption in our service. We have resolved the issue and customers can pay with PayPal on Cyber Monday," a PayPal spokesperson emailed.

Online shoppers also encountered technical troubles at Neiman Marcus, with the department-store chain's website crashing on Friday and Saturday, forcing it to extend Black Friday deals into Sunday. "Sincere apologies for our recent online difficulties," the retailer said Monday in a banner at the top of its site.

"Our site outages caused an inconsistent shopping experience over the weekend. We extended our Black Friday offers until noon Sunday when we kicked off our Cyber Monday offer," Ginger Reeder, a spokeswoman for Neiman Marcus, emailed. "We have seen no reason to suspect outside interference or sabotage, however the exact cause of the outage has yet to be determined."

Cyber Monday's shopping numbers could go into hyper drive this year. The day's widely publicized crush of online deals will attract an estimated 121 million shoppers this year, a National Retail Federation survey predicts. And total Cyber Monday sales revenue is expected to rise 12 percent, to $2.9 billion for the day, according to Adobe Analytics.

This year is expected to be the first Thanksgiving weekend when online shopping overtakes in-store buying, according to the NRF. Its survey estimated that 103 million people snapped up goods online since last Thursday, compared with 102 million who purchased in stores and malls. All told, about 150 million people shopped in either venue over the long holiday weekend, the retail association said.

Thanksgiving Day had a nine percent gain in online spending to $1.1 billion to surpass the billion dollar threshold for the second consecutive year and marking the first day of the 2015 season to reach that level, according to analytics company ComScore. Black Friday, or the day after Thanksgiving, followed with an even stronger spending day with $1.66 billion in desktop online sales, up 10 percent from Black Friday 2014, ComScore said.

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