Cyber Monday expected to break online sales records

Cyber Monday expected to break online sales records

Four days of screen time wasn’t enough for online shoppers, who are expected to follow a busy holiday shopping weekend with the biggest Cyber Monday sales day ever.

On the first workday after a marathon shopping weekend, consumers were back to browsing and buying gifts on their computers or smartphones, driving toward a record online sales day for retailers. By noon Eastern on Monday, online sales were up more than 21 percent from the year before, according to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, the arm of IBM that uses cloud computing to track real-time retail sales. Online shopping was expected to pick up after the end of work hours, when consumers can more freely shop from their home computer or couch-surf on their tablet, pushing sales up even higher.

“The shopping day isn’t over when the workday is over,” said Marc Dietz, who heads IBM cloud solutions.

The National Retail Federation expected 131 million online shoppers to make purchases Monday _ nearly matching the 141 million total shoppers who hit stores during the entire four-day weekend.

“Holiday shoppers aren’t done yet,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation. “We expect Cyber Monday to be bigger than ever.”

The busy Cyber Monday points to the growing importance of the Web in retail sales throughout the holiday season. Retailers made an early jump on sales this year _ Sears started rolling out Cyber Monday deals in September, and Wal-Mart kicked off a cyber sales week on Saturday _ and attempted to fend off online rivals such as with big online sales throughout the Thanksgiving weekend, raising speculation among some experts that Monday sales would slow.

But come the dawn of Cyber Monday, consumers hadn’t tired of online shopping, and there was no sign that they would retreat from their smartphones and laptops.

“Consumers want to experience a retail brand, regardless of where we choose to shop,” Dietz said. And increasingly, that “where” is a computer or mobile device.

Cyber Monday kicked off about 10 years ago, when retailers recognized that consumers were turning to their work computers to finish up the shopping they didn’t fit in over the weekend and began rolling out attractive sales. It has grown into the biggest online shopping day of the year, and continues to expand every year. Adobe Digital Index expects Cyber Monday sales to hit $2.2 billion, up from about up from about $1.47 billion last year.

The popularity of smartphones has helped consumers who are at work shop from their mobile devices, which may draw less attention from their bosses than desktop shopping. The National Retail Federation predicted nearly 1 in 5 shoppers would use a mobile device to buy Cyber Monday deals; as of 2 p.m., PayPal mobile payments had more than doubled compared with last year, the company said.

This year, Thanksgiving and Black Friday saw more online sales than previous years as consumers flocked to websites and apps as much as they did the malls and outlets. Consumers spent $1.1 billion online on Thursday and $1.9 billion on Friday, both record sales, according to Adobe Digital Index.


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