Cyber Monday is no longer a one-day tradition

Experts say online sales are expected to rise by 12 percent as millions of Americans hunt for holiday gift deals during the biggest Web shopping day of the year. NBC's Diana Alvear reports from an Amazon fulfillment center in Phoenix, Ariz.

Maybe “Cyber Week” would be a better name.

Just as Black Friday spilled over into Thanksgiving night, Cyber Monday has gone from being a one-day event to a tentpole for more than a week’s worth of promotions and discounts. Online sales on Thanksgiving, historically not a banner day for e-commerce, jumped 17 percent, according to research conducted by IBM. On Black Friday, online sales grew by 21 percent.

As of noon ET on Cyber Monday, onlines sales were up 24.1 percent compared to last year, according to data from  International Business Machines Corp. In 2011, the early Cyber Monday year-over-year growth was 15 percent. IBM tracks transaction data from 500 U.S. retail websites.

This year’s kickoff to the holiday shopping season was intensely competitive, with retailers offering price-matching and pricing merchandise aggressively. Shoppers responded, spending $59.1 billion over Black Friday weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. Research company comScore said online shoppers spent a record $1 billion on Black Friday and predicted that today’s sales will hit $1.5 billion.

To keep shoppers' momentum going strong, retailers are offering special Cyber Monday deals in the hopes of ringing up another $1.5 billion in online sales. CNBC's Courtney Reagan reports.

For the past couple of years, stores have pushed their Black Friday openings earlier in a bid to get shoppers off their computers and into stores. With stores opening as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving this year, online retail upped the ante and started promotional blitzes even earlier.

Cyber Monday was first conceived in 2005, two years before the iPhone even existed. Today, ubiquity of smartphones and tablets also makes this spillover inevitable, as users comparison-shopped electronically even while in brick-and-mortar stores over the long weekend. And thanks to widespread penetration of residential broadband access, Americans don’t have to wait to get back to the office on Monday to have the entire Internet at their fingertips.

“Consumers shopped in store, online and on mobile devices simultaneously to get the best bargains,” IBM’s report noted.

“[Cyber Monday] continues to be strong, and what's happening is that we're seeing just more shift to the web channel overall even on other days like Black Friday and Thanksgiving,” said Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru. is a big likely winner for Cyber Monday sales, said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at the NPD Group. “They’re doing a really good job of suggestive selling. They’re making the site much more efficient,” he said. “You have to basically put them in the forefront.”

Analysts had high hopes for big-box stores including Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy, and said retailers with a strong online counterpart to their physical stores, like J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Apple and Williams-Sonoma, were in a good position to take advantage of Cyber Monday shopping. 

In an interview with CNBC Europe, Eric Abensur, group CEO of Venda, said that savvy retailers could avoid the threat of cannibalizing sales by using online and mobile promotions to drive customers to their physical stores, while other analysts said the strong showing over the weekend could be at today’s expense.

“Our sense is that while today is still the major day of the cyber period, it may not be off-the-charts historic,” said Joe Feldman, a senior analyst at Telsey Advisory Group. Feldman said overall spending is likely to grow over last year, but consumers are spreading out their purchases over a much longer time period than before.

“What we’re seeing is the front loading of the holiday business,” Cohen said. He said the early promotional hype could backfire if consumers’ appetite for spending fades. “They’ve sort of shot themselves in the foot.”

But Andrew Lipsman, vice president of industry analysis at comScore, Inc., disagreed with that assessment. “I think it's a misconception that Thanksgiving or Black Friday promotions must pull from Cyber Monday,” he said. “They may pull dollars from later in the season or represent incremental spending.”

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Discuss this post

Cyber Monday has its roots in the online sex chat rooms of the 1990's. In that sense it has never been a one-day tradition.

  • 1 vote
Reply#1 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:12 PM EST

I am getting all my stuff on line this year... I found this hilarious cookbook that I am giving along with spice mixes.. the book is a bit unpc, like the chatrooms:0 so thought it might fit here.. I won't tell you the title but if your curious you can google 'whipped and beaten culinary works" to find it.. the spice mix recipes are on the website as well.. check it out.. if you have a good sense of humor and don't get offended too easily..

  • 1 vote
#1.1 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:03 PM EST

I thought sex chat rooms started in the 80s, but then again, I dont know how folks back then could try to get some ass through back and forth paging; without actually seeing what the hooker looks like....

They call them the good ol days...I call them the stone

  • 1 vote
#1.2 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:11 PM EST

What next ..... Poopy Tuesday and Gangly Thursday

The mind boggles.

..... I know, lets have "Common Sense Day" - 365 days a year.

Leap Days are reserved as a Day of Contemplation and Thanks for a return to sanity.

Not holding my breath though.

    #1.4 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:59 AM EST

    love cyber the kindle fire ( original ) for 129 on amazon..get it fast if you want one

    • 1 vote
    Reply#3 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:42 PM EST
    Stefanie Ann Croninvia FacebookDeleted

    I almost always shop exclusively online. I get so tired of going to brick and mortar stores only to learn that the size I want isn't there (e.g. because the store doesn't carry the plus-sizes in the store). What a huge waste of my precious time. I am a busy girl and I like to get exactly what I want, when I want and online affords me that luxury....minus the rude saleslady or mean customer trying to get through the store like her life depends on it. I have certain stores I love to shop at so I know what size I wear. I am very rarely dissatisfied when I shop online. The entire experience has always been relatively painless. :) And I begin receiving deals for Cyber Mondays from my favorite stores on Saturday. I <3 Cyber Mondays!

      Reply#6 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:02 PM EST


        Reply#7 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:25 PM EST

        An illustrious career--posting periods or other punctuation marks to garner fractions of a cent. You must have quite the following...

        • 1 vote
        #7.1 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:45 PM EST


        Four of the first six comments are ads!!

        • 3 votes
        Reply#8 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:39 PM EST

        Not so cyber of a deal. Saw a lot of prices go up on cyber monday. A nikon camera I was looking at started the day $50 more than the night before, $70 more by cyber Monday afternoon. Heard same story from other cyber shopers.

          Reply#9 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:52 PM EST

          Dang it. I should have bought like four things on Walmart this morning. By lunch they all sold out. In fact all the good stuff sold out.

          Why not have cyber Monday and black Friday every month if it's good for the economy? You can still have super black Friday after thanksgiving.

            Reply#10 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:57 PM EST

            In other words it's just one constant "deal" and "sale" like those at the bricks and mortar stores.

            When they do this it means they've jacked up the regular price so they can still make money on the deals. That in turn means you always wait for the deal so everyone only ever buys the deals making those the actual regular price!

            • 4 votes
            Reply#11 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:17 PM EST

            I agree. Wake up, Sheeple. Don't allow yourselves to be herded by retailers.

            • 1 vote
            #11.1 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:59 PM EST

            Every time you put your credit card or debit card information on that screen, just think about all the hackers out there waiting and doing everything they can to intercept that information and what they willdo with it. Only a fool buys on the internet.

            • 1 vote
            Reply#12 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:26 PM EST

            ...or bank, or post photos, or blog, or fill out doctors' requests for personal information, comment on news articles, etc., etc.

            Everything you do online is tracked and recorded and backed-up. Every account you have, (of any kind,) is a path to you and your location. Everything is at risk. Nothing is private or unhackable. Even if you 'swear off' technology and don't go online yourself, all of your information is still there and for sale. There are lots of buyers, and your information is cheap.

            If you are smart and careful, shopping is no more foolish or dangerous than any other online activity.

            • 2 votes
            #12.1 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:20 PM EST

            Buying stuff online is far safer than at a retail store. If you are half way intelligent all you do is keep your virus and malware scanners up to date and a solid firewall and your pretty much set.

            I could steal your identity simply by going into your trash can or looking over your shoulder at a checkout line. Much much easier and so much harder to trace.

            • 3 votes
            #12.2 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:32 AM EST

            At least where I have been shopping I'm not seeing very many good bargains. What I *do* see are places clearing out old stock (like B&N discounting their older e-readers/tablets by $20 via gift card while newer devices remain the same). Small discount at Apple Friday on older devices. Nothing at Microsoft. Some places offering sales that they do anyhow - no extra bargain.

            • 1 vote
            Reply#13 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:43 PM EST

            That's what life in America is all about, eh? Crazed, half-sentient zombie shoppers trampling over one another to snatch the last HDTV while greedy, profiteering businesses pull out all the stops to rake in maximum amounts of cash. What a wonderful world!

            • 4 votes
            Reply#15 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:59 PM EST

            You mean I can shop all year long?? Not just today?

            • 1 vote
            Reply#16 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:51 PM EST

            Am I the only one who didn't care one bit about Cyber Monday? If I need something I will shop for it. Just because an item is "on sale" doesn't mean I'm stupid and will buy it.

            • 3 votes
            Reply#17 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:54 PM EST

            Ah! A kindred spirit!

            • 1 vote
            #17.1 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:22 PM EST

            “What we’re seeing is the front loading of the holiday business,” Cohen said. He said the early promotional hype could backfire if consumers’ appetite for spending fades. “They’ve sort of shot themselves in the foot."

            I for one truly hope this commercial extravaganza blows up right in their faces, this whole thing has made me truly hate Christmas and the whole holiday season...Bring back the blue laws of yester year, most businesses are callous and greedy to be trusted to behave like civilized humans...

            • 1 vote
            Reply#18 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:01 PM EST

            I'm a video gamer on a budget, and this weekend is the one where I load up on all the games I've missed out on over the past 12 months. The deals were good on Thursday and Friday, but in terms of software, one website blew everyone out of the water with fire-sale pricing on Saturday morning. Won't say who, as that would be free advertsing, right?

            Anyway, there were a few deals to be had today, but you really had to look for them. All Cyber Monday means is the poor UPS drivers and their seasonal assistants will be working a 15 hour shift this Thursday getting everything delivered.

            • 1 vote
            Reply#21 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:07 PM EST

            Yup, I got some stuff at a great price. You know what I did when stuff started getting "removed" from my cart due to out of stock? I CANCELLED MY ORDER! Some of us have self control even when in "spend mode". Though I'm happy I got the deal I did!

              Reply#22 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:28 PM EST

              Think of this the next time you purchase something on-line... you are taking away the jobs of your neighbors, taking away money from your local schools, taking away money from local firefirgters and police departments, and lowering the value of your own home. People don't take any of this into account when they purchase something on-line instead of at their local retailer or small business. We (local businesses) are the one's who pay local taxes, and pay local employees who can pay local taxes, and support our communities. And that sales tax you're avoiding by purchasing something on-line, look at your state sales tax codes. You most likely are violating the law by not paying your sales and use tax on out of state purchases. Some things to think about the next time you decide to click on an item instead of supporting your neighbors.

                Reply#23 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:05 AM EST
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