Online Holiday Shopping Spree! Cyber Monday Sales Break Records

November 27, 2012  |  

The numbers are in and this year’s Cyber Monday is the all-time online shopping champ.

Sales for the day were up 30.3 percent year-over-year with department stores leading the pack, according to the AP. “Results show Americans are getting more comfortable shopping across all screens — computers, smartphones and tablets — and retailers are capitalizing on this by improving e-commerce offerings and beefing up Cyber Monday-specific deals,” the news outlet reports. Still, online sales only account for 10 percent of total holiday sales. We’ll have to wait for the November and December numbers to get a fuller picture, but The National Retail Federation is expecting an overall increase of 4.1 percent in holiday spending this year.

There had been concerns that Cyber Monday had lost its oomph. In response to yesterday’s numbers, Jay Henderson, IBM Smarter Commerce’s strategy director tells USA Today, “The reports of the death of Cyber Monday are greatly exaggerated.” The “most-searched-for products” were Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Ugg boots. The most-searched retailers were, Target, Amazon, and Walmart. The data shows that mobile devices were used by many people to visit a retailer and make purchases and “PayPal had almost 200% more volume in mobile payments,” the paper writes. (Interestingly, Mashable reports that Twitter contributed zero to online sales on Black Friday. Or .34 percent to be exact.)

For the weekend as a whole, Ad Age says the average shopper spent $423, up from $398 last year. The magazine outlines four things that they say the weekend showed about the consumer habits. The one that we found most interesting is, “Consumers could care less about the ‘fiscal cliff.'”

“More Americans this month said the U.S. economy will improve than at any time in the past decade, according to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index. The share of households saying the economy would get better rose to 37%, the highest since March 2002. A year ago, the measure showed a record number of consumers said it was a bad time to spend,” the magazine continues.

We’re curious about whether this optimism is something that comes with the holidays and a coming new year. The holiday season is a happy time, and New Year’s brings with it lots of hope for the year ahead. And after years of this recession, who doesn’t want to let go a little now that things seem to be slowly turning around? (Though unemployment numbers in the black community still show many still feel a strong level of economic strain.)

But an analyst that spoke with the AP, Brian Sozi, also makes an interesting point: “Retailers have done a fine job at shifting the pool of holiday buyers to earlier in the season, but have not necessarily created demand outside of the carefully scrutinized shopping list.” So the question is whether the level of optimism and enthusiasm will be sustained for the next month? Or will shopping fever cool as people reach their budget thresholds?

This also ties in with one of the other things that Ad Age said about the holiday shopping weekend: “Retailers are nervous about the economy.”

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