Retailers rolled out discounts and free shipping deals on Cyber Monday, with millions of Americans 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," early reports indicated shopping was less robust online on Monday compared with prior years. As of 6 p.m. ET, online sales rose just 8.1 per cent compared with last year, according to IBM Digital Analytics. The figures don't take into account the many shoppers who plan to head online after work or in the evening. But a year ago, Cyber Monday sales jumped 20.6 per cent, according to IBM.
It is still expected to be the biggest online shopping day again, as it has been each year since 2010. That is good news for retailers after a Thanksgiving weekend that saw fewer shoppers and lower spending than last year, according to some estimates. Mobile traffic, which includes smartphones and tablets, has accounted for about 38 per cent of all online traffic, compared with 30 per cent a year ago. Average order value was $131.66, flat with 2013.
Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said retailers could be playing it safe on deal offers since shoppers have been conditioned to head online to look for sales on Monday.
"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."
Courtney Lane Greenley, 25, from Alexandria, Virginia, was feeling regret Monday that she didn't buy a knife block and cutlery earlier in the week, when she saw better deals online. Amazon was running a limited-time "lightning offer" for some Rachael Ray cookware on Friday under $100, but on Monday the same products cost more than $100.
"I should have pulled the trigger earlier," she said. Greenley didn't think she would make the purchases on Monday.
Jack Kananian, of Brunswick, Ohio, 31, was more satisfied with his purchase. He waited months to buy a computer because he wanted to wait for Cyber Monday deals. He found one on HP's mobile site and bought it via his smartphone on Monday, a computer with a touch screen for $550 marked down from $800.
"I've been taking a look at different prices, but I bought it once I saw the deal, it was the best price I saw by far," he said.
On Monday, 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.
This 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.
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. It has forecast overall holiday sales will increase 4.1 per cent to $616.9 billion in 2014.
In Asia and Europe, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have increasingly been used as marketing ploys by retailers, even though Thanksgiving isn't celebrated. In Asia, Singles Day, which occurs on Nov. 11, still is by far the biggest shopping day, with sales of $9.3 billion this year. That's bigger than U.S. sales of Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday combined.