Millions of Americans paused during the Monday after Thanksgiving to check out online deals and check off people on their holiday gift list. But so-called Cyber Monday may be in danger of losing its online sales title.
The Monday after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest online shopping day of the year, but stores are releasing online deals earlier, stretching them through the week, as well as making them available in stores. Shoppers looking for discounts spurred online sales on Black Friday to a new high.
During the holiday shopping weekend that kicks off on Thanksgiving and the day afterward known as Black Friday, more and more shoppers decide to skip the mayhem in stores and buy online.
That shoppers are able to compare prices means they’re less likely to pay full retail price, said Steven Cox, a marketing professor at Queens University of Charlotte.
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“It’s not clear to me people are buying fewer things, they’re just able to get better prices,” Cox said. “There’s transparency today – when you can see what you can get stuff for, why would you ever pay full price?”
Cyber Monday still packs the biggest punch in terms of a single online shopping day – for now. Shoppers spent $540 million between midnight and 10 a.m. Eastern time on Monday, affirming that sales are expected to total $3.36 billion, up 9.4 percent from a year ago, according to an early tally by Adobe Digital Insights, which tracks online retail transactions.
But other days are catching up. Adobe’s forecast puts Cyber Monday neck-and-neck with Black Friday, when consumers spent $3.34 billion, up 21.6 percent from last year.
“Even if there’s a great sale at some store, most of these stores have an online presence, so people are just going online to try to find it,” said Cox, the Queens professor.
Cyber Monday has been the busiest day of the year for online shopping since 2010. The phrase was coined in 2005 to encourage online buying when people returned to offices where they had high-speed internet service.
The term is still used to promote heavy discounts online, even though most people now have constant access to the web via their phones and computers.
The National Retail Federation estimated that 122 million Americans plan to shop online on Cyber Monday, up from the 121 million to planned to participate last year.
Research firm ComScore expects mobile sales to make up 20 percent of online sales for the first time this year, and Adobe said mobile purchases surged 33 percent on Black Friday to $1.2 billion.
And promotions have changed in response to buying patterns. Instead of door-buster markdowns on a select few products, for example, retailers are shifting to a stream of discounts and alerts during the entire week via email and social media.
Staff writer Katherine Peralta contributed