Cyber Monday: Can't Trust That Day?

cybermonday.comOnline retailers know they're as vulnerable to consumer anxiety as regular stores, and a new poll from the National Retail Federation finds that an impressive 83% of them are pulling out all the stops, offering some kind of price promotion just in time for Cyber Monday.

Just as the Friday after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, is technically the start of the holiday season, the following Monday has come to be the kickoff of the online shopping marathon. And the NRF's eHoliday Survey reports that 83.7% of retailers will have some sort of special promotion for Cyber Monday--up from 72.2% last year. These will include specific deals (38.8%), email campaigns (32.7%), and one-day sales (24.5%). And 22.5% are offering free shipping on all purchases.

Increasingly, consumers will track down these bargains from the office. The NRF says that 55.8% of workers with Internet access, or about 73 million people, plan to do their shopping from the comfort of their own cubicle. (In 2005, only 44.7% shopped online from work.) Younger people are more likely to shop on company time, with 70% of those between 18 and 34 shopping from the office, and men are more likely to do so than women (60.3% versus 51.5%).



The survey also finds that many Web sites are also stepping up cross-channel promotions, with 28.6% of sites planning to increase online marketing of Black Friday promotions this year, including emails on stores' Black Friday deals (74.3%), trumpeting Black Friday deals on the retailer's home page (62.9%) and search marketing (54.3%)., NRF's online division, maintains a site called more than 600 retailers participating--which provides additional deals, coupons and discounts, including new deals unveiled on an hour-by-hour basis.

This year, online retailers are likely to need every ounce of shopping enthusiasm they can generate. While the NRF has predicted that the majority of online retailers--56.1%--expect their sales to increase at least 15% compared to last year, comScore, a leading metrics firm, earlier this month came out with a much gloomier numbers.

With the growth rate of online sales falling from 19% in the first quarter of the year to 13% in the second and just 9% in the third, it says some categories actually began to decline in the third quarter. Online music, movies and videos sales have fallen 29%, books and magazines have declined 17%, and apparel, shoes and accessories have dropped 3%.

Meanwhile, has no intention of waiting until Monday, and wants people to start shopping before they have done the Thanksgiving dishes. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company, which just posted its Black Friday circular online, says it will offer online specials on Thanksgiving Day--including electronics, toys and video games, with free shipping through its Site to Store program.

"While on the site Thursday, shoppers also can see Walmart's Black Friday specials available in stores the next day," it says in its release.

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