Cyber Monday: Sales come early, go deep and likely will stretch into the week
Nov 26, 2012 (The Oregonian - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
If you can get past the kooky names, shopping in November is becoming a bit of a spectator sport.
The players include Gray Thursday, a newly emerging moniker for deals rolled out on Thanksgiving night, as well as the old Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Retail experts nationwide spent much of the weekend speculating which day would outdo the other, based on how many people showed up in stores, how long they stayed and how much they spent. An equally important consideration now is how many scouted items over the weekend then bought them on Monday, a day when most major Web retailers offer free shipping and deep discounts.
"Online's piece of the holiday pie is growing every day, and all the key dates are growing with it," said Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst with Forrester Research. "The Web is becoming a more significant part of the traditional brick-and-mortar holiday shopping season."
Shoppers are expected to spend $1.5 billion on Cyber Monday, up 20 percent from last year, according to research firm comScore. That would make it not only the biggest online shopping day of the year, but the biggest since comScore started tracking shoppers' online buying habits in 2001. Indeed, any shopper who's ever shared an email with a retailer saw a flooded inbox late Sunday and early Monday. Deals offered by national retailers varied from 15 percent to 70 percent off, in many cases with free shipping or bonus gifts. As with strategies over the whole holiday weekend, many retailers unveiled their Web deals early, and many plan to honor them beyond Monday.
Retailers with Oregon-based operations got in the act too. Powell's Books offered free, unlimited shipping. Medford-based Harry & David dished up a few deals, ranging from 12 percent off its $79.99 food gift box to 50 percent off a $49.95 owl-shaped cookie jar. Educational supplies retailer Learning Palace has discounted everything in its catalog by 20 percent through next Sunday.
"The response has been healthy," said Michael Faris, co-owner of the family-owned company. He offered no Cyber Monday deals in 2011, but this year sent out an email blast and promoted the deal on Facebook. The payback was double a normal day's online sales.
At Moonstruck.com, the Web store of the local sweets retailer was on pace with sales it saw on Cyber Monday 2011, said David Fischer, director of Moonstruck Chocolate Co.'s Internet sales.
Although the company doubled its Cyber Monday sales from the prior year in 2009, 2010 and 2011, Fisher said he didn't expect that to happen this year. However -- here comes the duke-it-out part -- sales over the holiday weekend (including Gray Thursday and Black Friday) were 60 percent higher than over the same period last year.
"You are seeing a lot of overlap now," Fisher said, adding that in the past, slow connections at home often sent people to faster work machines. Now home machines are equally speedy. Deals, too, are pretty comparable across the weekend, he added, pointing out Moonstruck extended its free shipping deal last weekend.
"Finally, I think there is a little guilt for spending time at working shopping," he said. "I talked to a number of folks today who said they try to limit their online shopping at work for fear of getting in trouble or just didn't want to waste their employers' time."
-- Laura Gunderson
Associated Press contributed to this story.
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