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Why Cyber Monday matters more than ever

Given the origins of Cyber Monday, it should have become irrelevant in the grand scheme of online holiday sales. That’s far from the case though as evidenced by the latest insights from digital measurement firm comScore.

The leading digital measurement firm released data late Tuesday showing Cyber Monday sales increased 18% to more than $1.7 billion to establish a new record for the heaviest online shopping day in history. It was also the second day this season in which online sales surpassed $1 billion which was the case on Black Friday.

If that 18% figure sounds lower than what some other firms were quick to report late Monday and early Tuesday it is because comScore looked narrowly at spending conducted via desktop computer and excluded mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

"Any notion that Cyber Monday is declining in importance appears to be completely unfounded as its strong year-over-year growth rate of 18% resulted in yet another record for online spending in a single day," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "While it's true that many retailers are bleeding their Cyber Monday promotions into the weekend before and the days afterward, Cyber Monday itself continues to be the most important day of the online holiday shopping season. That said, we did also see evidence of early promotions pulling some dollars forward into the weekend, so it is possible that Cyber Monday could have even been stronger were it not for the emergence of this trend."

2013 holiday season to date vs. corresponding days* in 2012
Non-travel (retail) e-commerce spending
Excludes auctions and large corporate purchases
Total U.S.: home and work desktop computers
Source: comScore
 
Millions ($)

2012

2013

Percent Change

Nov. 1–Dec. 2 (vs. Nov. 2–Dec. 3, 2012)

$22,048

$23,904

8%

Nov. 1–Dec. 2 (vs. Oct. 26–Nov. 26, 2012)

$19,183

$23,904

25%

Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28)

$633

$766

21%

Black Friday (Nov. 29)

$1,042

$1,198

15%

Holiday weekend (Nov. 30–Dec. 1)

$1,187

$1,594

34%

Cyber Monday (Dec. 2)

$1,465

$1,735

18%

Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday

$4,327

$5,293

22%
*Corresponding days based on corresponding shopping days (November 2 through
December 3, 2012)
 

For example, sales on Thanksgiving Day increased 21% to $766 million and Black Friday sales were up 15% to nearly $1.2 billion. The weekend after Thanksgiving posted particularly strong growth online, raking in nearly $1.6 billion for an increase of 34%, according to comScore. For the total five-day period online sales via desktop computer increased 22% to $5.3 billion.

The growth of online sales isn’t surprising, but the continued dominance of Cyber Monday and the volume of commerce conducted via desktop computers is a noteworthy situation considering the circumstances which gave rise to Cyber Monday.

"Cyber Monday was coined back in 2005 to highlight the significant spike in online spending that occurred on the first day back to work following Thanksgiving weekend," Fulgoni said. “The working theory at the time was that broadband connections at work made it easier for consumers to shop online — and indeed we see that work-based buying accounts for half of all Cyber Monday spending.”

The curious thing is that even though broadband connections are now nearly universal in homes, Cyber Monday has maintained its popularity which Fulgoni attributes to other factors.

“The fact that many people are still in the shopping mindset coming out of Thanksgiving weekend and are in front of a computer screen for eight hours might have something to do with it. Not to mention, it is easier to shop for holiday gifts for family members without them looking over your shoulder at home,” Fulgoni said.
 

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