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Cyber Monday: Is it Hip or Hype?

iPhone and tablet orders are increasing each year on Cyber Monday. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for eBay)

When “Cyber Monday” was created in 2005 by the US National Retail Federation and introduced on their Shop.org web site is was not a major success by any stretch of the imagination. According to comScore it was only the 12th biggest online shopping day that year.

Biggest Cyber Shopping Days

The biggest online shopping days have been growing over the past few years but have not been close to the traditional brick and mortar stores. Here are the cyber shopping totals between 2005 -2009

2005: Monday, December 12 at $556 million (vs. $486m on Cyber Monday)
2006: Wednesday, December 13 at $666.9m (vs. $608m on Cyber Monday)
2007: Monday, December 10 at $881m (vs. $733m on Cyber Monday)
2008: Tuesday, December 9 at $881m (vs. $846m on Cyber Monday)
2009: Tuesday, December 15 at $913m (vs. $887m on Cyber Monday)

Something Happened In 2010

History of sorts was made on November 29, 2010 when the numbers for online purchases traded places with Black Friday sales. On that day Cyber Monday sales tallied $1.028 billion dollars. While Black Friday sales post a somewhat anemic $648 million.

In the following year cyber sales increased again to $1.25 billion dollars — a 22 percent increase. In 2012 Cyber Monday sales increased to $1.465 billion, about $423 million more than Black Friday sales.

What Makes Cyber Monday Work?

Thanksgiving sales and Black Friday are designed to do one thing. Get people in a spending mood. People buying products that they never gave a second thought to all year long are suddenly things that are impossible to live without simply because they are being offered at a lower price than we are used to.

People returning to work bright and early Monday morning think about their gift giving challenges and take to their keyboards just to see what’s out there or what they might have missed over the long weekend. And retailers make sure there is plenty for them to look at.

The other thing that made 2010 work and all the years after is the advent of the smart phone. Eighteen percent of holiday shoppers checked out deals on their smart phones on Cyber Monday last year. With smart phones online shoppers can check prices, order online, zap UPC codes, and get just about any piece of information the consumer needs.  The big winners on Cyber Monday are the usual suspects. Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, Sears and Target pull in the big bucks both online and in store aisles.

Some Final Thoughts

It’s hard to imagine that Americans spend over $1 billion dollars on a single day buying stuff. I am not going to preach that those dollars could be used for all kinds of knee jerk politically correct causes. Actually I am going to do quite the opposite.

Those dollars result in millions of jobs all over the world. They pump badly needed dollars into an economy that is struggling to say the least. And if those dollars don’t find their way into the economy through holiday sales how else will they get there?

So before bashing big corporations or local businesses for being greedy capitalist pigs keep in mind the amount of property taxes they pay, numbers of people they employee and the amounts of locally made products that find their way to their store shelves. Shop away you’re helping not hurting.

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