Fact or Fiction: Cyber Monday Is the Heaviest Online Shopping Day of the Year

Here’s a little bit of a brain bender.

The retail industry coined the phrase “Cyber Monday” to represent the Monday immediately following Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). Presumably everyone was returning to work and continuing their shopping online.

However, the term ended up a misnomer because there was always a day closer to Christmas that exceeded it in sales, as procrastinators waited until the last minute to shop online.

Well, that may change this year, says comScore, which measures such stuff.

“At this late juncture in the online holiday season, we have likely already witnessed the peak spending day of the year, which means that Cyber Monday should emerge as the season’s heaviest online spending day for the first time in history,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni in a release.

That’s not to say other days didn’t come close.

Overall, online spending this year is up 12 percent, when looking at the 47 days between Nov. 1 and Dec. 17, and this past week’s numbers were even higher. Online shopping reached $5.15 billion in the week ended Dec. 17, jumping 14 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

Both Monday and Friday were abnormally strong, coming in at $943 million and $942 million, respectively.

But for the first time ever, neither of those day was able to outperform Cyber Monday, which hit an all-time record of $1.03 billion.

Historically, two days in the past week have particularly stood out. Monday is named “Green Monday” after the color of money, and Friday is called “Free Shipping Day,” because a number of physical and e-commerce retailers teamed up to promote online shopping by giving away free postage for a 24-hour period. Monday was up 12 percent over last year, and Friday was up 61 percent.

Based on historical patterns, comScore had reasoned that one or more days would exceed $1 billion in the past week. Now with Christmas six days away, it’s likely too late to see that kind of volume again. Although Amazon’s cutoff for fee shipping ends tonight, and Wal-Mart’s free shipping (with guaranteed arrival by Dec. 24) ends tomorrow night, and department stores like Macy’s is offering free shipping until Monday for items $99 or more.

In all, the shopping season to date stands at $27.46 billion.

Happy holidays, indeed.

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