The Monday after Thanksgiving is fast becoming the fourth official day of the Black Friday weekend shopping spree, with more and more consumers heading online to make their purchases. And online retailers are starting to take notice.
Fats Domino sang about “Blue Monday” back in the 50s. Then The Mamas and The Papas cautioned, “Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day.” But around this time of year, more and more retailers are starting to think about the Monday after Thanksgiving, also known as Cyber Monday.
This moniker was coined in 2005 by Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation (NRF), says Executive Director Scott Silverman. “Cyber Monday originated because we saw data indicating that there was a surge in online shopping on the Monday after Thanksgiving,” he explains. “It makes sense, because people were beginning their holiday shopping. They get a lot of great ideas over Thanksgiving, then they are ready to start making purchases.”
With this being only the third year the name has been in use, few people have ever heard of Cyber Monday. But online retailers and Shop.org are working to change that.
Retailers Caught by Surprise
Back in 2005, the spike in shopping on the Monday following Thanksgiving caught retailers by surprise, Silverman says, and most didn’t have the opportunity to offer promotions on that day. A few savvy online retailers, though, did quickly figure out what was going on and bought the search term “cyber Monday,” increasing their ranking on search result pages and driving more sales.
Last year, the day picked up momentum when, Silverman says, “We saw a number of retailers offering Cyber Monday promotions, e-mails and sales, just for that day. We expect to see even more of that this year.”
Part of the Weekend Shopping Spree
What is happening, says Abe J. Schear, partner with the Atlanta law firm Arnall Golden Gregory and a specialist in retail leasing, is that the Monday after Thanksgiving is becoming the fourth official day of the big post-Thanksgiving weekend shopping spree. “People who have not bought what they wanted in the stores on Friday or Saturday or Sunday get back to work on Monday, then take a look and buy what still remains on their shopping list.
“So, it does not appear that people are waiting for Monday,” Schear explains. “What they are doing is shopping for many things that they otherwise didn’t buy in that three-day bonanza that immediately follows Thanksgiving.”
Event Planned in D.C.
This year, Shop.org has scheduled a “Shop at Lunch” event for Cyber Monday, which falls on November 26 this year. To be held at the ESPN Zone in Washington, D.C., the “Shop at Lunch” promotion, says Silverman, “invites people to come in, eat lunch, shop online, and enjoy the Cyber Monday deals.”
Shop.org even has its own “online holiday shopping mall,” CyberMonday.com, where more than 500 participating retailers are offering special deals just for the day, with a portion of the proceeds going to a scholarship fund for students who wish to pursue a career in e-commerce.
NRF reports that the eHoliday Survey conducted by BizRate Research indicates that the majority of online retailers will feature special promotions for Cyber Monday this year. These promotions will range from special e-mail campaigns (32 percent) to specific deals (29.9 percent) to one-day sales (28.9 percent). A quarter of retailers (24.7 percent) will offer free shipping on all purchases. In total, 72.2 percent of online retailers — up from 42.7 percent two years ago — are planning Cyber Monday promotions.
Stress-Free Shopping Alternative
AllAmericanBling.com (which sells a lot more than bling, as jewelry is known among the hip) is advertising its Cyber Monday specials online, with a special page (www.AllAmericanBling.com/CyberMonday) devoted to sales the company is offering that day. A spokesman for the store says that AllAmericanBling created its Cyber Monday page because many shoppers find “brick-and-mortar stores chaotic” and standard shopping to be a “gas-guzzling, hard-to-find-a-parking-space, time-consuming chore.”
For his part, Silverman is particularly pleased that Cyber Monday got national coverage on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. “The first day after Thanksgiving weekend is now known as Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year — a tradition stretching back to, I guess, last November,” Stewart quipped last year. “Cyber Monday followed by, I guess, Identity Theft Tuesday.”
Multi award-winning Carol Carter has been a business journalist since 1978, when she was among the founding staff of Atlanta Business Chronicle, for which she served as editor, managing editor, reporter, and columnist. She covered retail news for the Chronicle for five years, wrote a column about retail stores for Southline newspaper in Atlanta, and was the consumer reporter for NBC-affiliate WXIA-TV’s Noonday show.