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Cyber Monday Grows, But Thanksgiving, Black Friday Online Sales Catching Up

Not everyone agrees on the best presents, deals or early
stocking stuffers but this much is evident: Cyber Monday should end up being
the biggest online shopping day of the year. And depending on which news story
you read, and which industry analyst you hear from, it may continue to
grow and eventually dwarf Black Friday in retail sales...or it may fizzle out as
retailers begin to offer more online discounts prior to and after Cyber Monday.
Which is it?

Right now, it seems like retailers are covering all their
bases to grab the best of both worlds, doing hefty Black Friday promotion to
draw in-store business, while also touting to consumers the benefits of
buying online. Email coupons offering discounts for customers who buy online on
Monday are pouring into email boxes across the country.

ComScore estimates that U.S. consumers will spend $1.5
billion this Cyber Monday, up 20% from last year, with many retailers offering
enticing bargains to draw customers to their websites. The Associated Press
reports that, for example, is offering super online deals like 60%
off a 55-inch Panasonic HDTV that usually sells for more than $1000. Sears is
offering a Maytag washer and dryer on sale for $399, less than half their
everyday price, and Kmart is offering 75% off all diamond earrings.

But media reports show that the number of consumers buying
online on Black Friday is also growing. ComScore reported that online sales for
Black Friday topped $1 billion for the first time this year, up 26% from $816
million last year. And Thanksgiving Day online sales reached $633 million, up

So as more retailers begin to market their merchandise and
offer online discounts on days other than Cyber Monday, more consumers are
going to begin spreading out their shopping purchases.

Vicki Cantrell, executive director of, tells AP
that the growth of high-speed Internet access, smartphones and tablets means
consumers are relying less on their work computers to shop than they did in the
past when the National Retail Federation coined the term Cyber Monday.

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

In an article titled, "Is Cyber Monday Losing Its Luster?"
Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group, tells Lauren Indvik of
Mashable that some of the nation's largest retailers who are now opening on
Thanksgiving Day are advertising the promotional deals online in days and even
weeks before then. "Retailers now have to promote throughout the whole
holiday season to stay competitive," Cohen says.

Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst for Forrester
Research, tells Mashable that moving forward, "We'll start to see Cyber
Monday offers not just online but also in stores," which will redefine the
initial Cyber Monday concept.

NPD's Cohen says what is also not working in Cyber Monday's
favor is that online buying, while convenient, is "a solitary process." He
tells Mashable, "What online retailers need to do is turn it into a much more
social event. It needs to engage families and friends in a much bigger, better
way. That's where the stores still beat them."

While Cyber Monday might be neutralized a bit going forward,
there will still be significant consumer spending, and online holiday sellers
need to know what information sources shoppers use when making online buys.
Forrester has just released its North American Technographics Retail Online
Benchmark Recontact Survey for third quarter.

The survey finds that 59% of online shoppers cite shipping
costs as the top consideration when making an online buy. Close behind is
product reviews and ratings from other customers, which was cited as 57%. Also
important to consumers making online buys is product information from the
retailer (47%), the need for detailed product descriptions (41%), information
from the manufacturer (39%), discounts (35%), low price guarantees (31%) and
retailer return policies (22%).