Black Friday shoppers, meet Cyber Monday. The first Monday after Thanksgiving has now become a day when many online retailers offer sales comparable to their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
According to Shop.org, a trade group for online retailers, about 72 percent of its 120 members are offering special sales or promotions on Monday. Two years ago, that number was 42 percent.
"Online retailers consider Cyber Monday a virtual Black Friday," said Shop.org Executive Director Scott Silverman in a statement. His organization said it invented the term Cyber Monday in 2005 after some online retailers noticed a jump in online shopping in the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Shop.org said Internet retailers have stepped up their sales this year with "an assortment of one-day specials to send shoppers online."
72 Million Shoppers Online
This year's specials will include specific deals, one-day sales, or free shipping. Home Shopping Network online, for example, is offering free shipping as part of its "Cyber Monday Savings."
HomeDepot.com is having a "1-Day Online Savings Event" with several markdowns, while eToys.com is promoting a "special CyberMonday.com savings" of $5 off an order of $35 or more. Other retailers participating in Cyber Monday include Circuit City, JC Penney, Lands' End, and Sears.
To promote Monday's consumer delights, Shop.org features a guide to some of the online sales through its cybermonday.org site. Launched last year, the site now features more than 550 retailers.
According to Shop.org, those sales are targeting the 72 million consumers who will shop online on Monday from home or work, an increase from the 60.7 million in 2006 and the 59 million in 2005. Those figures come from a survey conducted for Shop.org by BIGresearch, which polled nearly 8,000 consumers over the last few weeks.
The Cyber Monday Invention
Some employers might eventually consider Cyber Monday to be a Black Monday in terms of productivity. Shop.org's survey said that 54.5 percent of office workers having Internet access will shop for gifts from work, a nearly 7.5 percent increase over last year.
In particular, men are more likely to shop at work than are women, and young adults aged 18 to 24 are more likely than any other age group to shop.
Whether from home or work, Cyber Monday is taking hold. Andrew Frank, an analyst at industry research firm Gartner, said that Cyber Monday might be an "invented phenomenon" that began to encourage mass buying behavior, but it "appears to have worked."
It could become a permanent feature of the e-commerce landscape, he noted, which would offer yet another indication that the Web has emerged as a permanent part of the shopping experience.
That shopping experience includes not only direct purchasing online, but also researching online. The BIGresearch survey noted that the Internet will influence about 30 percent of holiday sales, whether by direct purchasing or by providing information.