This year's Cyber Monday promises to be the biggest yet.
According to a survey conducted by Shop.org, the industry organization that began Cyber Monday in 2005 as an online shopping event after the Thanksgiving weekend, about 129 million Americans plan to shop for Cyber Monday sales , an increase of nearly 7 million over last year. In 2010, about 106 million shopped online on this occasion. The organization estimated that about 85 percent of retailers will feature a special promotion for Cyber Monday.
Industry observers project that online holiday sales could rise by 12 percent to 20 percent this year over last year. On Black Friday -- the day after Thanksgiving, when brick-and-mortar stores kick off their holiday shopping season -- nearly 60 million Americans shopped online, boosting e-commerce over $1 billion for the first time and rising 26 percent over last year. Industry research firm comScore has projected total sales for Cyber Monday will reach $1.5 billion.
'Honed and Improved'
Vicki Cantrell, Shop.org executive director, said in a statement that retailers have "honed and improved their Web sites, mobile sites and social media outreach" for Cyber Monday. Shop.org also runs the CyberMonday.com Web site, which features promotions from more than 800 retailers, as well as a Deal of the Hour throughout the day. Participating stores include Sears.com, Dell Home, Kohl's, Sephora.com, QVC.com, RedEnvelope and others.
The continuing growth of mobile shopping is reflected in the use of smartphones and other mobile devices to take advantage of this year's Cyber Monday sales, with 14.4 percent more -- or 20.4 million -- shoppers expected to use those devices this year, compared with 17.8 million last year. In 2009, that number was only 3.8 million shoppers.
Most shoppers -- 88 percent, according to Shop.org's survey -- will use their home computers for the day's shopping, while 12.4 percent will shop from work.
Laura DiDio, an analyst with Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, said that it appeared the center of gravity of holiday shopping in the U.S. could be shifting toward online, "albeit somewhat slowly," as mobile devices make it easier to shop while avoiding the crush of unruly crowds.
"Thanksgiving marks the 'tally-ho' of the shopping race," she said.
DiDio told us that, even as online shopping grows every year, there are "still people who like the thrill of the hunt" in finding a sale item while physically shopping in a store.
Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation, was founded in 1996 and has 600 corporate members, including the 10 largest U.S. retailers. The organization began Cyber Monday in 2005 after retailers started noticing a boost in online shopping on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Just as Black Friday has become the official kickoff of the in-store holiday shopping season, so Cyber Monday has become the beginning of the online equivalent.
This year's survey was conducted on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, and polled 4,005 consumers.