Millions of American shoppers, exhausted from weekend excursions to the malls, returned to their jobs on Cyber Monday and went to work -- to continue their shopping, this time online.
The retailing concept has called for shoppers the visit bricks and mortars stores on Black Friday -- extended this year to cover the entire Thanksgiving holiday week -- and then to do their online shopping on Monday from their work computers. This year the two bargain retailing events have merged, with online shopping picking up steam over the entire seven-day period.
According to online research company ComScore, some 70 million shoppers will log onto their computers Monday and spend more than $900 million in hoped-for bargains. The movement is really a trend underlined by ComScore's earlier observation that online retail sales have jumped to $11.64 billion over the first 26 days of November. The increase represents a 13% gain over the same period last year.
Bargains, of course, represent the main attraction, but escalating gas prices have worked to keep people at home, particularly shoppers in rural areas who have to drive long distances to malls. Many online shopping sites have announced free shipping to sweeten their offerings this year. Social media, too, is making an important impact on online shopping as consumers are taking a more direct influence on friends by recommending sales and bargains on Twitter and Facebook.
IBM's Coremetrics reported that online spending rose 14% over the long weekend, from Thanksgiving Thursday through Saturday. IBM's Michael Haydock had predicted a surge in online buying based on U.S. Commerce Department statistics, which reported an increase in disposable income and household savings.
"Cyber Monday sales were very flat last year," said Matt Wilson of SBC Advertising in Columbus, Ohio, according to media reports. "Everybody is predicting Cyber Monday is going to be bigger this year."
Traditional online shopping pacesetters Amazon and eBay each offered incentives to shoppers. Amazon offered deals on Apple products while Apple itself appeared to be holding the line on pricing. As an example, Amazon was offering an Apple iPod Touch 64 GB for $326.94, significantly lower than Apple's list price of $399.99. Amazon also is throwing free shopping into the deal.