It’s Not Just You — Holiday E-Tailing Is Starting Earlier This Year

Today, multiple retailers unveiled their plans for Cyber Monday, many days earlier than last year.

In the physical retail world, it’s the equivalent of putting up Christmas displays and piping in carols over the sound system before Thanksgiving, maybe even before Halloween.

This year, e-tailers are jumping the gun in an effort to get a bigger share of your wallet by announcing sales as much as a week before such traditionally heavy online shopping days as Black Friday and Cyber Monday (the Friday and Monday following Thanksgiving, respectively).

Two of the biggest retailers in the U.S. are exemplifying this trend with rival releases this morning:

Walmart said today that it is kicking off Cyber Week this year on Saturday, Nov. 24, and lasting through Sunday, Dec. 2. Specials will be available online and refreshed daily, with customers enjoying free shipping on more than 100,000 items. Meanwhile, Amazon said its Black Friday deals are starting today and running through Saturday. “We’re offering customers our widest selection of Black Friday Lightning Deals ever and we’re bringing doorbuster deals to shoppers earlier this year,” said Ben Hartman, Amazon’s VP of consumer electronics.

There are signs that consumers are responding to the early offers:

  • PayPal, which claims to process nearly one-fifth of global e-commerce, said today that the official U.S. shopping season started as early as Sept. 30.
  • said today that sales from its 2012 holiday shopping are up 400 percent versus its holiday business this time a year ago.
  • Chase Holiday Pulse data, which tracks data from 50 large e-commerce retailers, is finding that year-over-year sales volume is up 12.3 percent over 2011. Some days, like Nov. 11, were up more than 50 percent.

But many of the busiest days are yet to come. UPS is preparing for Thursday, Dec. 20, when the logistics company estimates it will deliver 28 million packages around the world, compared to its average day of 15.8 million packages. This holiday is expected to be a record-breaking year for UPS, which is forecasting that it will deliver 527 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas, surpassing last year’s total of 480 million.

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