Cyber Monday shoppers give retailers sales bump

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NEW YORK (AP) — Cyber Monday is turning into Cyber Month.

Retailers rolled out discounts and free shipping deals on Cyber Monday, with millions of Americans expected to log on and shop on their work computers, laptops and tablets after the busy holiday shopping weekend.

But with retailers extending their online deals into "Cyber Week" and even "Cyber Month," early reports indicated shopping was less robust online on Monday compared with prior years. As of 6 p.m. ET, online sales rose just 8.1 percent compared with last year, according to IBM Digital Analytics. The figures don't take into account the many shoppers who plan to head online after work or in the evening. But a year ago, Cyber Monday sales jumped 20.6 percent, according to IBM.

It is still expected to be the biggest online shopping day again, as it has been each year since 2010. That is good news for retailers after a Thanksgiving weekend that saw fewer shoppers and lower spending than last year, according to some estimates. Mobile traffic, which includes smartphones and tablets, has accounted for about 38 percent of all online traffic, compared with 30 percent a year ago. Average order value was $131.66, flat with 2013.

Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said retailers could be playing it safe on deal offers since shoppers have been conditioned to head online to look for sales on Monday.

"Cyber Monday offers aren't super compelling, but don't need to be," she said. "It's been the biggest shopping day of the year for the last few years, so they know that people are going to come."

Courtney Lane Greenley, 25, from Alexandria, Virginia, was feeling regret Monday that she didn't buy a knife block and cutlery earlier in the week, when she saw better deals online. Amazon was running a limited-time "lightning offer" for some Rachael Ray cookware on Friday under $100, but on Monday the same products cost more than $100.

"I should have pulled the trigger earlier," she said. Greenley didn't think she would make the purchases on Monday.

Jack Kananian, of Brunswick, Ohio, 31, was more satisfied with his purchase. He waited months to buy a computer because he wanted to wait for Cyber Monday deals. He found one on HP's mobile site and bought it via his smartphone on Monday, a computer with a touch screen for $550 marked down from $800.

"I've been taking a look at different prices, but I bought it once I saw the deal, it was the best price I saw by far," he said.

On Monday, Gap and Banana Republic offered 40 percent off all purchases. Amazon offered up to 45 percent off some Samsung TVs and a deal later in the day for its Amazon Fire TV video streaming box marked down to $69 from $99.

Wal-Mart said it has doubled its Cyber Week deals to 500 compared with last year, including up to half off some TVs, tablets and toys with free-shipping offers. Wal-Mart is also rolling out new deals later in the day in its so-called "Evening Edition" round of deals, including a Straight Talk Moto E Android Phone for $9.99, 90 percent off its regular price.

The name "Cyber Monday" was coined in 2005 by the National Retail Federation's online arm, Shop.org, to encourage people to shop online. After retailers revved up deals, it became the busiest online shopping day in 2010. The name was also a nod to online shopping being done at work, where faster connections made it easier to browse, less of a factor now.

This Cyber Monday comes after a weekend that saw 5.3 percent fewer shoppers and 11 percent less spending, according to estimates by the National Retail Federation.

Research firm comScore said late Sunday that e-commerce spending for the first 28 days of the November and December shopping season totaled $22.7 billion, up 15 percent from last year. Sales jumped 32 percent to $1 billion on Thanksgiving Day and 26 percent on Black Friday to $1.51 billion. The firm expects people to spend about $2.5 billion on Cyber Monday alone.

The NRF predicts 126.9 million people will shop online this year, down 4 percent from last year. It has forecast overall holiday sales will increase 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion in 2014.

In Asia and Europe, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have increasingly been used as marketing ploys by retailers, even though Thanksgiving isn't celebrated. In Asia, Singles Day, which occurs on Nov. 11, still is by far the biggest shopping day, with sales of $9.3 billion this year. That's bigger than U.S. sales of Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday combined.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tips for shopping safely
By Nicole Vowell

This time of year is prime time for cyber scammers to attack while consumers are shopping for online deals. Here are five ways to stay one step ahead of hackers this Cyber Monday, according to Brian Krebs, journalist and author of "Spam Nation":

1. Get email savvy
Don’t click on a URL received in an email, especially one from a merchant or bank.

2. Use a credit card instead of a debit card
Experts say fraudulent charges can be much harder to dispute on a debit card than a credit card.

3. Practice good password hygiene
Passwords you use on shopping sites should never match passwords you use for more sensitive sites, such as your bank and social media accounts.

4. Beware of phantom sites
Fake retailers pop up this time of year with extremely low prices to lure customers. Make sure the site you're shopping on is legitimate.

5. Keep your browser up to date
Hackers increasingly are targeting vulnerabilities in browsers. Keeping them up to date can prevent a cyber attack.

ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said the strong spending online so far stems from the "overall health in consumer spending, responsiveness to the strong deals being offered online, and perhaps some shoppers opting to stay home on Thanksgiving rather than head out to the stores that opened their doors early."

More people shopping on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet is spurring growth, too. The NRF expects one in five people will use a mobile device to shop on Cyber Monday. IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark said this year marked the first weekend after Thanksgiving where mobile traffic accounted for more than half of all online traffic on Saturday and Sunday.

Overall, online sales were up 17 percent compared to the same weekend in 2013, according to IBM.

On Monday, online retailers promoted deals throughout the day. Gap and Banana Republic offered a blanket 40 percent off all purchases.

Amazon, which offers new deals every 10 minutes, offered up to 45 percent off some Samsung TVs and 60 percent off a Canon wireless printer selling for $39.99. Amazon is rolling out deals throughout the day including its Amazon Fire TV video streaming box marked down to $69 from $99, beginning in the afternoon.

Wal-Mart said it has doubled its Cyber Week deals to 500 compared with last year, including up to half off some TVs, tablets and toys with free-shipping offers. Wal-Mart is also rolling out new deals later in the day in its so-called "Evening Edition" round of deals, including a Straight Talk Moto E Android Phone for $9.99, 90 percent off its regular price.

Toys R Us is offering online deals for 11 days that began the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and also has free-shipping offers. Cyber deals include $15 off Disney "Frozen" Princess dolls that are regularly $50 and $20 off a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Battroborg Electronic Battle Game that is usually $80.

The name "Cyber Monday" was coined in 2005 by the National Retail Federation's online arm, Shop.org, to encourage people to shop online. After retailers revved up deals for the day, it became the busiest online shopping day in 2010. The name was also a nod to online shopping being done at work, where faster connections made it easier to browse, less of a factor now.

Cyber Monday comes after a weekend that saw 5.3 percent fewer shoppers and 11 percent less spending, according to estimates by the National Retail Federation.

"Online is nowhere near its maturity, so Cyber Monday should be big, with a lot of strength in the days leading up to it," Forester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said. "More consumers are spending more shopping dollars online."

She expects two spikes in online shopping: one during the long Thanksgiving weekend, including Cyber Monday, and one later in December when shipping deadlines to get items by Christmas start to hit.

The National Retail Federation has forecast overall holiday sales will increase 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion in 2014.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos

Mae Anderson

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