Commentary

Cyber Monday, Anyone?

Well, good morning. I hope you all had a great holiday and time with your friends and family. After cooking up a storm, I decided to appease a dear friend and partake of the Black Friday festivities. We headed out for our first-ever 4:30 a.m. day-after-Thanksgiving shopping run to none other than a local Super Wal-Mart. First, let me tell you it was 20 degrees in Boston. Second, it sounded like a fun idea until I actually had to wake up not long after going to sleep.

The parking lot was jammed and shoppers were lined up. The electronics aisle went all the way around the perimeter of the store. People had started lining up at midnight (it's a 24-hour store) for the most-talked-about 5 a.m. specials, the $400 laptops. There were 25 in this particular store. It took a total of three minutes to sell out.

Navigating my cart was like a rat race. To top it all off, I found that the store was a cell phone black hole. I thought I'd never find my friend again. We connected in a food aisle where there were dozens upon dozens of flat screen TVs and a few flat screen monitors. I had to get the heck out of there.

Once we were out and had regained feeling in our hands from the frigid cold outside, I was beat. I cannot believe the madness, the crowds and the craziness we ensued. Were the savings that big? Did I really care at that point? The more I thought about it, the more I realized the obvious: I am not the demographic; I am not a morning person; I hate the cold (although I grew up in the Northeast); and what's here that's not online?

Well thank goodness for Cyber Monday, folks. Have you heard about it yet? It's the online version of Black Friday. Think about it, everyone is back to work with the holidays on their minds. Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving is becoming one of the biggest online shopping days of the year.

According to the Shop.org/BizRate Research 2005 eHoliday Mood Study, 77 percent of online retailers said that their sales increased substantially last year on the Monday after Thanksgiving, a trend that is driving serious online discounts and promotions on Cyber Monday this year.

"On Cyber Monday, consumers set their sights on surfing for holiday gifts and shopping online," said Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org. "This year, online retailers will be capitalizing on the increased traffic by offering special promotions and discounts."

Oh no, people won't wait till they get off of work to shop. They'll do it right in the middle of the work day. According to Shop.org, about 51.7 million people plan to shop at work. Why not take advantage of secure servers and high connection speeds?

All kidding aside, online traffic is expected to surge after work hours and when parents put the kids to bed on Monday night. The online population will be scouring the Net for sales, rebates, promotions, free shipping and the like.

Forrester predicts that online holiday shopping will increase about 25 percent to about $18 billion this year. According to the Shop.org survey, 77 percent of online retailers said their sales increased substantially last year on the Monday after Thanksgiving, a trend that is expected to drive serious online discounts and promotions on Cyber Monday this year.

The most-shopped categories last year were jewelry, gourmet food, consumer electronics, furniture and home decor. Will these categories remain hot this year? Hmm, I'm not so sure--not after seeing the mad dash for flat screen TVs and monitors, laptops and portable DVD players.

Will the deals be better than last year's? I'm not sure, either. However, the convenience of search engines, comparison shopping, free shipping and click and buy is far better than freezing my butt off in line at a brick and mortar department store in the middle of the night.

So what do you think? Will Cyber Monday sales increase this year over last? The clock is ticking....

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