11/26/2012 02:58 EST | Updated 01/26/2013 05:12 EST

Online shopping surges in US holiday season; Cyber Monday likely to be busiest day of year

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Online shopping has surged in the U.S. this Christmas shopping season, with the effects spilling over from the so-called Cyber Monday — expected to be the biggest online shopping day of the year for the third straight year.

Americans were expected to spend $1.5 billion, up 20 per cent from last year on Cyber Monday, according to research firm comScore, as retailers have expanded their deals to get shoppers to click on their websites. Early results from Monday showed that online shopping was up 24.1 per cent compared with the same time period a year ago, according to figures by IBM Benchmark released at noon. The group does not track dollar amount sales.

But shoppers were also busy online on Thursday, the Thanksgiving holiday. And online sales on Friday, traditionally a boom day for shopping at stores offline, were up 26 per cent from the same day last year, to $1.042 billion. It was the first time online sales the day after Thanksgiving surpassed $1 billion.

For the holiday season to date, comScore found that $13.7 billion has been spent online, marking a 16 per cent increase over last year. The research firm predicts that online sales will surpass 10 per cent of total retail spending this holiday season. Online sales on Thanksgiving Day rose 32 per cent over last year to $633 million, according to comScore.

With consumer spending making up 70 per cent of the still-struggling U.S. economy, coaxing Americans to shop this Christmas season is key.

A U.S. shopping trade group coined Cyber Monday after noticing that online sales spiked on the Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday.

But industry watchers say it could just be a matter of time before other days take that ranking.

"Of all the benchmark spending days, Thanksgiving is growing at the fastest rate, up 128 per cent over the last five years," said Andrew Lipsman, a spokesman with comScore

Retailers are hoping the deals will appeal to shoppers like Matt Sexton, 39, who for the first time plans to complete all of his holiday shopping online this year on his iPad tablet computer. Sexton plans to spend up to $4,000 this season.

How well retailers fare on Cyber Monday will offer insight into Americans' evolving shopping habits during the holiday shopping season, a time when stores can make up to 40 per cent of their annual revenue.

With the growth in high-speed Internet access and the wide use of smartphones and tablets, people are relying less on their work computers to shop than they did when, the digital division of trade group The National Retail Federation, introduced the Cyber Monday term.

"People years ago didn't have ... connectivity to shop online at their homes. So when they went back to work after Thanksgiving they'd shop on the Monday after," said Vicki Cantrell, executive director of "Now they don't need the work computer to be able to do that."

The National Retail Federation estimates that overall retail sales in November and December will be up 4.1 per cent this year to $586.1 billion.

Florida resident Jack Payne, 60, shopped on Cyber Monday for the first time, picking up a refurbished iPad on for $469.

"The economy still sucks so every penny counts," he said.