Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and now CyberMonday. Launched several years ago by shop.org, an organization that promotes online retailers, CyberMonday features special sales and free shipping to complement the discounts in brick-and-mortar retailers on Friday.
After much trepidation about Black Friday -- so called because it's the day that stores aim to be in the black for the year -- there were reports that crowds were substantial but, because of large discounts, profits were thin. Some retailers reportedly offered discounts up to 70 percent going into the weekend. Additionally, some observers have noted that the crowds fell off throughout the weekend, and that there was more interest in lower-priced items than in big-ticket ones.
In other words, sales on Black Friday were neither as good nor as bad as they could have been.
And Now, Mobile Tuesday?
Online shopping over the weekend did not fare much better. Internet industry research firm ComScore reported Sunday that weekend online spending was up only two percent for the Thanksgiving and Black Friday period, compared to a year ago, but that includes many heavily-discounted items.
The basic idea behind CyberMonday is to ride on the coattails of Black Friday's shoppers, many of whom might want to give their feet a rest and avoid crowds by having their fingers do the walking online.
Best Buy, for instance, offered a two-day, online-only sale for Sunday and Monday, in addition to other specials. The Apple Store and Overstock.com offered free shipping, and Sears offered CyberMonday specials such as tools up to 50 percent off.
Just as Black Friday begat CyberMonday, so CyberMonday may beget Mobile Tuesday.
A mobile marketing firm named Mobigosee is planning to launch Mobile Tuesday. Mobigosee founder-CEO Tanya Penman told news media that, since the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is a slow shopping day, the company will encourage mobile-based shopping on Tuesdays following Thanksgiving, with an advertising campaign that will include radio, outdoor media, and online ads for an initial 10 American cities.
Penman said three major marketers have signed on so far -- McDonald's, Finish Line, and RedTag.
No Loss Leader or Trampling
Michael Gartenberg, vice president for consumer strategy at Jupitermedia, noted that online retailers could face the same consumer reluctance to spend that brick-and-mortar stores have encountered this season.
But, he noted, online stores have some advantages. "They don't have to offer loss-leader items to get people into stores," he said, referring to publicized items priced at or below cost. Online stores can focus more on bargains on which they actually make money.
And, he noted, online shoppers don't have to be wary of too-aggressive crowds. This holiday season, for instance, a worker in a Long Island, N.Y., Wal-Mart was trampled to death and at least four others were injured by overeager shoppers.