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Consumers Shopped from Home to Tie Cyber Monday Sales Record, or So They Say

Cyber Monday this year may not have emerged as the biggest online holiday shopping day in history, but it tied for the title.

Despite the strong showing, and to the relief for employers, less shopping may have come on the boss's time.

Digital marketing intelligence firm comScore reported that online sales this Cyber Monday, Nov. 30, reached $887 million, up five percent from the Monday after Thanksgiving last year, and coming up even with the biggest online spending day recorded, Dec. 9, 2008.

Hitwise, another online sales monitor, said Amazon (AMZN) again was most visited electronic commerce site followed the online operations of Walmart (WMT) and Target (TGT).

In what might be expected, given that consumers are increasingly familiar with online shopping but are under spending constraint these days, the number of online Cyber Monday buyers gained six percent to just under nine million even as dollars spent per buyer declined from $103.72 on average to $102.19, comScore noted.

Cyber Monday didn't see the biggest online sales gains of the holiday weekend on a percentage basis. Black Friday led there. Sales on what is supposed to be a store shopping day gained 11 percent to $595 million while those on Thanksgiving Day itself advanced 10 percent to $318 million. Sales on Saturday and Sunday gained at the same rate as Cyber Monday, with the five percent advance over the two days amounting to $805 million.

According to comScore, more than half of online purchasing is done from work. Interestingly, that contrasts with a study by Shop.org, part of the National Retail Federation. That study noted that 42 percent of those planning to purchase on Cyber Monday intended to shop early in the morning. A sizable proportion, 33 percent, intended to shop in the early evening while somewhat fewer, 23 percent, intended to shop in the late evening. Only 14 percent of potential Cyber Monday shoppers said they had a notion to shop from work, while 92 percent said they would shop from home.

The survey was conducted from Nov. 26 to 28. Actual shopping may have varied, as those with the intention to purchase had to wrestle all work day long with the desire to grab online bargains.

Shop.org determined that an increasing number of retailers made an effort to ensure that Cyber Monday sales grew. In all, 87 percent prepared a special promotion for the day, up from 84 percent last year and 72 percent in 2007, according to the Shop.org study, conducted in a collaboration with BIGresearch.

What's interesting to consider is that Shop.org claims to have coined the term Cyber Monday just four years ago. With the media turning it into an event and retailers a sales opportunity, the newly named occasion is helping increase the importance of the Thanksgiving holiday for retailing. Siva Kumar, CEO of Thefind.com, which tracks available bargains, notes that retailers actually attempt to hold online prices as high as possible through Cyber Monday, a few flashy discounts aside. After, they evaluate inventories, and if they're holding onto more merchandise than they like, they will lower prices or enhance deals. They repeat the process a week later. That behavior is more evidence that retailers need to be successful on the Thanksgiving weekend or else they have a long season of deeper discounts and plummeting profits to dread.

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