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Time to Ctrl+Alt+Del Cyber Monday?

Major retailers plan to kick off Cyber Monday deals early as they look to entice bargain-hunters to their sites ahead of the holiday season rush.

Walmart (WMT) will begin offering thousands of Cyber Monday deals starting Sunday, Nov. 29 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time. The world’s largest retailer said Monday it wants to make it easier for customers to get deals on its site without having to stay up past midnight.

Rival Target (TGT) is offering what it calls Cyber Week deals, including steep discounts on products such as apparel and toys. Customers will be able to get 15 percent off on all items on its site beginning on Sunday, along with “e-doorbuster” discounts on Monday. Macy’s (M) is already offering Cyber Monday deals. J.C. Penney (JCP) shoppers can get special online deal through Wednesday, with the department store planning to launch its Cyber Monday offers on Sunday.

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With holiday sales expected to dip this year compared with 2014, according to research firm IHS, it remains to be seen if starting holiday sales a few days early will benefit retailers’ bottom lines.

“Just because retailers seem to be offering discounts earlier and earlier doesn’t mean that is changing consumer behaviors,” said Andrew Lipsman, a vice president at comScore, which tracks e-commerce, in an email. “Consumers tend to start their holiday shopping when they’re ready to start it -- and that tends to be around Thanksgiving, like it or not.”

Walmart, Macy’s and other retailers have warned investors that they planned to ratchet up promotional activity during the holiday season, as they try to drive sales in an ever more competitive environment. Investors are increasingly worried that traditional retailers are struggling to compete against online rivals such as Amazon.com (AMZN). The Seattle-based company had no immediate comment on its plans for Cyber Monday.

Meanwhile, some experts say Black Friday may be eclipsing Cyber Monday in the hearts and minds of online shoppers.

A survey of 1,000 shoppers by Deloitte found 66 percent said they planned to shop online on the day after Thanksgiving, up from 48 percent in 2014. Some 52 percent of respondents planned to shop on Cyber Monday, the first Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, roughly in line with last year.

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Such data is the latest sign of the changing shopping habits of U.S. consumers, who are increasingly shifting their holiday spending to September and October.

“To see that big of a shift in one year was a surprise for us,” said Rod Sides, the leader of Deloitte’s retail practice. “Folks are probably still going to stores at a lower rate than we have seen in the past, but a lot of them are going to spend time [shopping] on their computer.”

Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation coined the term Cyber Monday a decade ago after noticing a spike in e-commerce traffic when people returned to work after the Thanksgiving day holiday. But as Cyber Monday fades in importance, there is one potential benefit that businesses might enjoy.

“Maybe we will get some productivity back on Monday,” Sides joked. “Who knows?”

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