Thanksgiving has passed, Black Friday has passed, enter Cyber Monday. What was initially a made-up holiday to give underdog e-commerce sites a day of their own, it has become an undeniably very real and extremely lucrative event. At this same time last year, the Monday after Thanksgiving was the biggest online shopping day of the year by sales, and the first day ever that online spending passed $1 billion
This year, with a record-breaking Black Friday — $816 million online, 26 percent increase over last year, as well as increased in store sales — online retailers are gearing up for Monday to once again be their best of the season.
“It’s going to be up there again, no doubt, we were all surprised last year when we saw it turned out to be the biggest day of the season, But more and more retailers have become a part of the Cyber Monday kickoff, more and more consumers are aware of it and know there are special deals coming — and you put that together and you’ve got an important day.” said Gian Fulgoni, chairman of comScore and an e-commerce expert.
The Monday after Thanksgiving was Amazon.com’s busiest day for the first time last year, when it sold 13.7 million items. Previously, the busiest day fell in mid-December on the last day Amazon offered free shipping in time for Christmas. The day was also the biggest last year for PayPal, which saw a 19 percent increase in online payment volume over the year before.
Still, there are naysayers who view the day as more hype than reality. “The majority of consumers are procrastinators and they’ll wait as long as they can, Cyber Monday is the start of the wave, not the top of the wave.” said Mark Vadon, Blue Nile’s chairman.
Cyber Monday was dreamed up in 2005 by Shop.org as a marketing ploy to kick off online holiday shopping. More people had high-speed Internet at work, the thinking went, the easier to shop with. But the day was far from the biggest shopping day of the holiday season, coming in at No. 12, according to comScore.
Now, retailers, hoping to stand out, are borrowing Shop.org’s formula to invent their own days. Coming soon are mobile Sunday, which PayPal christened the second Sunday in December, and free shipping day on Dec. 16, brought to you by FreeShipping.org. And beware of Red Tuesday, which the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies warns will hit shoppers who go into debt on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Mobile shopping is also expected to drive online sales on Monday, because people returning to work after the holiday can conveniently shop on their lunch break or under the conference table in a meeting, said Claudia Lombana, shopping specialist at PayPal.
“Just like Thanksgiving weekend shopping is a ritual in America, when people go with their families to look for deals, as soon as they go to the office on Monday they look online, it’s almost ceremonial.”