Cyber Monday Sales Set Record, Hitting $1.25 Billion

Cyber Monday has made its mark as the heaviest online spending day in history for the second year in a row.

In a final tally, comScore reports that $1.25 billion was spent online yesterday in the U.S. This exceeds last year’s record of $1.028 billion by 22 percent.

There was evidence early on that Cyber Monday was on track to produce record sales, with research firms releasing updates almost hourly. Others, including IBM, confirmed the strong gains reported by comScore.

The comScore figures only include purchases made from devices connected to fixed Internet connections (i.e., computers); IBM’s analysis includes mobile shopping, using data from 500 retailers nationwide that use its systems.

IBM found that online sales were up an impressive 33 percent on Cyber Monday compared to 2010, with a large majority of shoppers using mobile devices.

Though the name Cyber Monday might lead one to expect the busiest online shopping day of the year, historically that particular Monday has failed to outdo other days closer to Christmas. In fact, there’s still plenty of time this year for additional billion-dollar-plus days to come, if consumers are indeed spending more and not just looking for steep discounts.

So far, the consumer trends suggest we are headed for a strong Christmas season.

Cyber Monday followed a busy Black Friday, with comScore reporting $1 billion in online sales, a 16 percent increase over last year’s day-after-Thanksgiving shopping phenomenon. Online sales for November have already reached $15 billion, a 15 percent increase over the first 28 days of the month last year.

Those numbers don’t include commerce conducted on mobile phones and tablets, which people are using to shop during their commute or from their living room couch. IBM found that 10.8 percent of people used a mobile device yesterday to visit a retailer’s site, up from 3.9 percent in 2010. Additionally, mobile sales grew dramatically, reaching 6.6 percent versus 2.3 percent in 2010.

Mobile sales in particular were driven by Apple products, namely the iPhone and iPad, which collectively accounted for 7.4 percent of all online retail traffic. The top three devices — iPhone, iPad and Android — accounted for 4.1 percent, 3.3 percent and 3.2 percent of all online retail traffic, respectively.

The eBay-owned PayPal also reported massive mobile sales growth on Cyber Monday, with global mobile payment volume jumping 552 percent compared to the same day last year.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work