STYLE

Cyber Monday takes on added importance for retailers after slower-than-usual holiday weekend

12/01/2014 12:50 EST | Updated 01/31/2015 05:59 EST
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Retailers rolled out discounts and free shipping deals on Cyber Monday, with millions of Americans are expected to log on and shop on their work computers, laptops and tablets after the busy holiday shopping weekend.

But with retailers extending their online deals into "Cyber Week" and even "Cyber Month," some shoppers aren't quite seeing the jaw-dropping deals they were hoping for online.

Still, the day is expected to be the biggest online shopping day again, as it has been each year since 2010. That would be good news for retailers after a Thanksgiving weekend that saw fewer shoppers and lower spending than last year, according to some estimates.

Courtney Lane Greenley, 25, from Alexandria, Virginia, was feeling regret on Monday that she didn't buy a knife block and cutlery earlier in the week, when she saw better deals online. She saw a deal on Amazon, which has been running limited time "lightning offers," for some Rachel Ray cookware on Friday that was under $100, but on Monday it cost more than $100.

"I should have pulled the trigger earlier," she said.

Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said that since people are expected to shop on Cyber Monday, retailers can play it safe with deals.

"Cyber Monday offers aren't super compelling, but don't need to be," she said. "It's been the biggest shopping day of the year for the last few years, so they know that people are going to come."

Karen Manley, 44, of Bowling Green, Kentucky, took advantage of cyberdeals well before Cyber Monday. She started shopping online early last week, and snagged deals including puffer vests from Aeropostale that she bought before Thanksgiving that were $46 marked down to $14, plus free shipping. She planned to hit Dillard's and Forever 21 sites after work to look for Uggs shoes and sweaters for her three children age 13, 15 and 18, as well as free shipping offers.

"It's easier and more convenient to shop online," she said.

Research firm comScore said late Sunday that e-commerce spending for the first 28 days of the November and December shopping season totalled $22.7 billion, up 15 per cent from last year. Sales jumped 32 per cent to $1 billion on Thanksgiving Day and 26 per cent on Black Friday to $1.51 billion.

The firm expects people to spend about $2.5 billion on Cyber Monday alone. The NRF predicts 126.9 million people will shop online this year, down 4 per cent from last year.

ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said the strong spending online so far stems from the "overall health in consumer spending, responsiveness to the strong deals being offered online, and perhaps some shoppers opting to stay home on Thanksgiving rather than head out to the stores that opened their doors early."

More people shopping on mobile devices is also spurring growth. The NRF expects one in five people will use a mobile device to shop on Cyber Monday. IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark said this year marked the first weekend after Thanksgiving where mobile traffic accounted for more than half of all online traffic on Saturday and Sunday.

Overall, online sales were up 17 per cent compared with the same weekend in 2013, according to IBM.

On Monday, online retailers promoted deals throughout the day. Gap and Banana Republic offered 40 per cent off all purchases. Amazon offered up to 45 per cent off some Samsung TVs and a deal later in the day for its Amazon Fire TV video streaming box marked down to $69 from $99.

Wal-Mart said it has doubled its Cyber Week deals to 500 compared with last year, including up to half off some TVs, tablets and toys with free-shipping offers. Wal-Mart is also rolling out new deals later in the day in its so-called "Evening Edition" round of deals, including a Straight Talk Moto E Android Phone for $9.99, 90 per cent off its regular price.

The name "Cyber Monday" was coined in 2005 by the National Retail Federation's online arm, Shop.org, to encourage people to shop online. After retailers revved up deals, it became the busiest online shopping day in 2010. The name was also a nod to online shopping being done at work, where faster connections made it easier to browse, less of a factor now.

Cyber Monday comes after a weekend that saw 5.3 per cent fewer shoppers and 11 per cent less spending, according to estimates by the National Retail Federation.

The National Retail Federation has forecast overall holiday sales will increase 4.1 per cent to $616.9 billion in 2014.

Elsewhere in the world, like Asia and Europe, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have increasingly been used as marketing ploys by retailers, even though Thanksgiving isn't celebrated. Still, in Asia, Singles Day, which occurs on Nov. 11, is by far the biggest shopping day, with sales of $9.3 billion this year. That's bigger than sales of Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday combined.

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