Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday

We've all heard about "Black Friday", the Friday after Thanksgiving when shoppers still reeling from the effects of tryptophan wrench themselves out of bed at 6 A.M. to catch holiday shopping bargains. But what about "Cyber Monday"? This new term applies to the Monday after Thanksgiving when consumers return to work to take advantage of shopping online with fast broadband connections. Generally, 58 percent of all online shopping is done in the workplace, but 88 percent of Cyber Monday shoppers made purchases from the office.

This year's Cyber Monday sales totaled $687 million, up from $484 million last year. So, although Black Friday's storefront shoppers have slacked by about one million consumers since last year, Cyber Monday welcomed two million more shoppers to the Web this season.

Of course, consumer confidence plays a role in the success of shopping, too. Wal-Mart's early November sales were down by 0.1 percent, which led some retailers to fear a potential slack in sales for the rest of the year. However, Cyber Monday gave Wal-Mart.com its fifth biggest take of the year, proving that the Monday after Thanksgiving is becoming just as popular for shoppers as Black Friday.

Interestingly, December 11 is predicted to be the biggest spending day for online holiday shoppers this year. My guess is that date will give consumers just enough time to have something shipped and wrapped by the 25th. As for me — I'm going online this year. I'd rather spend my off-hours strolling leisurely past Bloomingdale's on my way to the park.

Do you think that consumers' shopping habits are evolving? Are consumers more likely to purchase something online at work than braving the storefront crowds? Or do you think that consumers will opt to jostle for position outside the nearest bargain basement and help retailers meet in-store sales predictions for this year?

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