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What Is Cyber Monday?



More people are using mobile devices to find Cyber Monday deals.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg for Getty Images

Younger people are more likely to use their smartphone to shop while on the go.

Credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images
What Is Cyber Monday?

One-fourth of holiday dollars is spent on toys.

Credit: Rachel Crabb/Getty Images

Question: What Is Cyber Monday?

Answer: Cyber Monday is the first Monday after Thanksgiving. In 2013, it fell on December 2, but most online retailers started their Cyber Monday deals earlier. In fact, top stores like Wal-mart, Target and Amazon started Cyber-week sales on Thanksgiving Day itself! The best way to get in on their deals was to sign up for their email newsletters. 

Nearly a third of shoppers began Cyber Monday shopping on Sunday. Most (75%) dove in on Monday morning, 25% shopped during lunch, and 34% went online again on Monday night. Only 19% also took advantage of Cyber Monday sales the rest of the week.

That's an evolving shift. It used to be that shoppers needed the faster internet speeds from work computers. Now, most people have speeds that are just as fast on their mobile devices. It's clearly the younger generation that are more comfortable using them to research products, compare prices, look up retailer information, redeem coupons, as well as buy. Also unlike past years, more people are planning to buy tablets and smartphones than TVs and laptops. (Source: FatWallet.com, Cyber Monday 2013 Shopping Survey).

In 2013, Cyber Monday sales were $2 billion, much more than the $1.5 billion sold in 2012, and the $1.3 billion in 2011. (Source: Bloomberg.com, Cyber Monday Sales Soar, December 3, 2013)

Cyber Monday appeals more to a young person. While nearly half of all Americans plan to shop online, 60% of those under 40 do so, while less than 40% of Boomers do.  

Cyber Monday was christened by Shop.org in 2005, because it's known for online shopping sales. It follows the bricks-and-mortar shopping done on Black Friday, the first shopping day after Thanksgiving. Each year, new records are set as more and more people enjoy the convenience of shopping online.

Online holiday sales overall are expected to grow 12% to $86 billion. That's because 51.8% of people will take advantage of web-based sales, up from the 46.7% in 2011. On average, each person will do more than a third (38.8%) of their shopping online. (Source: National Retail Federation, Online Holiday Expectations Setting the Bar High, October 3, 2013)

The holiday shopping season is important for the economy because 19% of retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas. For some retailers, such as jewelers, it can be nearly 40% of their annual revenue.

Online Shoppers Spend More

Overall, online shoppers planned to spend $884.55 each, nearly $150 more than the average. Their generosity extends to themselves. They planned to spend nearly $160 ($159.73 to be exact) on themselves, taking advantage of Cyber Monday and other holiday deals. This is $30 more than holiday shoppers overall. 

To catch this extra dollar, 90% of retailers offered great online sales. Nearly all offered free shipping, which was a large reason for the success of the record-setting 2010 Cyber Monday. This success spurred more than half of retailers to increase their "free shipping" budget, while one-third of retailers offered free shipping even earlier than they did last year. These retailers are smart, because 36% of shoppers surveyed said they'd increase their online shopping only if shipping were free.

Nearly half of the retailers offered coupons or a percent off deals (45.0%), while more than one-third had limited-time-only promotions. Fewer (15%) promoted a free gift-with-purchase.

Online retailers lured shoppers to Cyber Monday by promoting their sales even earlier than last year. More than half started their promotions by Halloween. These retailers are smart, since Halloween 2011 was the most successful spooky holiday yet. Nearly 40% waited a few weeks, starting their Cyber Monday promotions in mid-November. Just over half started promoting on Thanksgiving Day itself, while nearly all (92.2%) offered sales sometime over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Why Holiday Shoppers Switched to Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday shoppers are very clear about why they like the day. More than 40% of time-strapped shoppers said the 24-hour convenience is their highest priority. Almost as many listed their desire to avoid the crowds on Black Friday as their primary reason for shopping online. Nearly a third of online shoppers said they like the ability to easily compare prices. A few online shoppers said they would buy less, thanks to expensive shipping charges, not being able to see or handle their purchase ahead of time, and having to wait for it to be shipped.

Shoppers are using social media more than ever. Nearly one third said they would go to a company's Facebook page to get additional information about Cyber Monday sales. Twice as many would look at customer reviews on the company's website before buying any products or services. (Source: National Retail Federation, Online Retailers Preparing for Promotion-Heavy Holiday Season, October 24, 2011)

Growing Importance of Mobile Technology and Social Media

Online retailers respond to shoppers' use of mobile technology and social media by promoting there. More than half of retailers made sure their website sales were optimized for mobile devices. Another 20% optimize for tablet device apps. More than a third use QR codes in magazine and billboard ads.

Online retailers also maximized their use of social media. Nearly three-quarters said they'd promote sales on their Facebook pages, while more than 40% promoted on Twitter.

Nearly half (40%) of tablet users compare prices, while 20% redeem coupons. Most important, nearly a third go ahead and buy online usnig their tablets. (Source: National Retail Federation Annual 2012 Survey)

How to Get the Best Cyber Monday Deals

Retail sales can be found on CyberMonday.com, which features a schedule of what retailers offer deals at what times in a "Deal of the Hour" promotion. You can find sales from more than 800 online retailers. About.com Guide to Frugal Living suggests many coupon sites to make the Cyber Monday deals even better. See Cyber Monday Shopping Tips.  Article updated December 7, 2013

Cyber Monday FAQ

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