Cyber Monday Sales are Expected to Hit a Record

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The holidays are coming, which can only mean one thing — time to shop. And this year, more than ever before, consumers will turn to their laptops, smartphones, and tablets to buy their gifts, which should be good news for the likes of Amazon and eBay.

Total U.S. holiday spending is expected to increase by less than 4% from 2014’s results, according to the National Retail Federation, but per Forrester, online spending is expected to jump by 11% over last year. Forrester anticipates that U.S. online holidays sales will exceed $95 billion this year.

E-commerce typically makes up only about 10% of the retail sector, but during the holidays, it tends to increase to 15% of overall sales, according to Forrester.

“Mobile shopping is particularly popular during key holiday dates like Thanksgiving and Black Friday because phones allow shoppers to access time-constrained offers at any time wherever they may be,” Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali said. “Consumers continue to look to the web channel for convenience, selection, and value over physical stores.”

For the first time ever, Cyber Monday is on track to hit $3 billion in sales, according to Adobe, representing 12% year-over-year growth.

The holiday weekend is also expected to break records in terms of mobile’s share of the online pie.

On Thanksgiving Day, mobile is expected to drive the majority of shopping traffic (51%) for the first time ever, according to Adobe. Mobile sales will likely lag a bit, however, with 29% of overall sales.

Mulpuru-Kodali pointed to mobile as one of the biggest trends this year, but she also warned that the growth in mobile results more from device shifting and a tradeoff for shopping on laptop computers versus an increase in overall online spending.

ChannelAdviser Executive Chairman Scot Wingo similarly pointed to mobile as one of the bigger trends to watch for during the holiday season.

“We’ve seen [mobile] traffic get over 50%,” he said. “It’ll be interesting to see if transactions do.” As far as Adobe can tell though, the latter is unlikely.

While it remains to be seen how big of a role mobile will play in the coming weeks, online players are certain to be happy either way.

“This is going to be an Amazon holiday season,” TheStreet’s Jim Cramer said last week. Cramer said he favors Amazon over the traditional retailers because of their solid business model.

But Wingo has been a bit surprised by Amazon’s holiday promotions thus far. “Amazon is not nearly as promotional this year as they were last year,” he said. Last year, Amazon launched a month of Black Friday deals on November 1 with big fanfare, but this year the company quietly released this microsite with some deals.

eBay, meanwhile, has ramped up its holiday promotions, with Hal Lawton having joined as head of North America from Home Depot and emphasizing a more aggressive holiday strategy.

“Consumers are driving an extended holiday shopping calendar, and demanding earlier access to bigger deals, brands and selection,” said Hal Lawton, senior vice president of eBay North America. “Understanding these shifts allows eBay to celebrate the traditional shopping milestones with our customers, and to also establish new ones.”

Written by Rebecca Borison of TheStreet

(Source: TheStreet)

Wal-Mart Says Every Day Starting Now Will Be Like Cyber Monday

© Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

In past years, “Christmas creep” led to Santa Claus displays appearing in store aisles right after Labor Day, and the occasional “early Black Friday sale” popping up for a brief day or two here and there before Thanksgiving.

Increasingly, though, major retailers are ushering in Black Friday-type sales in early November, and they’re trying to maintain the intense, promotion-heavy atmosphere steady all the way to Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and beyond.

Starting Friday, November 6, Walmart is promising “ten brand new online specials every single day for the rest of the holiday shopping season” in its Daily Savings Center. The “Cyber Monday-like prices” introduced on Friday include a 24-inch RCA HDTV for $99 (normally $180), a Star Wars lightsaber clock for $19 (normally $32), and a ride-on battery-powered Mercedes kids car for $94 (normally $200).

Walmart is hardly alone in deciding to more or less expand Black Friday and Cyber Monday to all of November. Amazon launched Countdown to Black Friday Week deals starting on November 1, featuring a new series of discounts and promotions daily, and Best Buy in hosting a “pre-Black Friday” sale this weekend in stores and online, with special deals on iPads, iPhones, TVs, game consoles, and more.

Are these deals as good as what shoppers will see on the actual Black Friday or Cyber Monday—or Thanksgiving, since many stores will be open? It’s hard to say for sure. Many of the extra-early season promotions appear to be pretty outstanding, and may prove to be the best prices of the season.

Understandably, retailers want to get a larger piece of consumers’ holiday shopping budgets every year, and they want to grab those holiday shopping dollars earlier and earlier every year—if for no other reason than they are trying to beat the competition to the punch. But this push comes at a price. As the Consumerist noted, as Black Friday evolves into “Black November,” the sales on any given day—most obviously, Black Friday itself—become less important, and easier for shoppers to ignore.

Black Friday sales have been underwhelming lately, and surely part of the reason that the day is seen as less meaningful to retailers is that shoppers are being pulled in so many different directions—with big sales online, on Thanksgiving, and weeks before Black Friday.

To paraphrase the famous Syndrome quote from “The Incredibles,” when every day is special, then none is.

Written by Brad Tuttle of Time

(Source: Time)