Retailers Expecting Another $1 Billion-Plus Cyber-Shopping Spree Today

Last year, the Monday after Thanksgiving became the big deal retailers always wanted it to be.

For the first time ever, so-called Cyber Monday registered as the biggest online shopping day of the year despite years of procrastinators lifting other days higher as they waited until a few days before Christmas to do their online shopping.

The theory had always been that consumers who flocked to stores on Black Friday would return to their desks on Monday to continue buying deals online.

Last year, the plan panned out and more than $1 billion-worth in items were added to virtual shopping carts across the U.S. to make it the heaviest online shopping day of the year — and the first time ever that a single day eclipsed the billion-dollar mark.

Now, with November already off to a strong start with a 15 percent increase in sales compared to the same period last year, another strong Monday could be in the works, according to comScore, which tracks online holiday spending. The research firm tracks shopping from fixed Internet connections, meaning it doesn’t count items purchased on phones or tablets.

Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving — alone saw online sales of $816 million, making it the heaviest online spending day to date in 2011 and representing a 26 percent increase over the same day in 2010, comScore reported.

ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said, “We now turn our attention to Cyber Monday, a day that says will see eight in ten retailers running special online promotions. Last year, Cyber Monday was the heaviest day of online spending ever, with sales exceeding $1 billion, and we fully expect to see another record set this year.”

Cyber Monday may finally be living up to its name.

Amazon is a prime example of a retailer working hard to pry open wallets today.

Last year, the largest e-commerce company said Cyber Monday was Amazon’s peak day with more than 13.7 million items ordered worldwide, setting a record for 158 items sold per second.

Today, it will be important to achieve that pace again.

On Sunday, it bought full-color circulars in newspapers around the country promoting its lineup of discounts in its special Cyber Monday store.

On the front page, it touted its full lineup of Kindle e-readers, and a couple of pages were also dedicated to sales supposedly so steep you had to go online to see the prices for electronics, cellphones and videogames.

The Cyber Monday store, however, appeared a little unorganized with random “lightning deals,” which ranged from gift baskets to knife sets, board games, power tools and inexpensive jewelry — but nothing that seemed like the hit item of the season.

Other leading retailers, including Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target, will also be expected to offer special deals.

Surely, the theory goes, if enough marketing dollars are spent, and the discounts are substantial enough, it might get consumers to turn out again to break another record.

In a blog post, comScore analyst Andrew Lipsman explained that last year’s shopping bonanza on Cyber Monday — which was first named that six years ago — was finally successful thanks to consumer awareness.

Over the past few years, it’s been steadily climbing.

In 2009, it was the second-biggest shopping day; in 2008, it ranked third. Before that, it wasn’t even close to the top. In 2006, it ranked 12th and in 2007, it ranked ninth.

“Today the majority of consumers know what it is and the attractive types of deals they can anticipate. With increased awareness comes increased participation on the part of both retailers and consumers,” he wrote.

So, now we have to wait to see if the deals — and the shoppers — both turn out, or if Cyber Monday turns out to be just another big sales day.

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