In news that is sure to good for retailers, the financial sector and economists alike, Cyber Monday has proven to be a record breaking day for holiday sales – and could have surpassed even those Black Fridays we used to see when financial times were better. Online sales jumped by a whopping thirty percent, far better than anyone could have anticipated. If folks were holding their breath, waiting to see how the sales looked, by the time Monday rolled around, they were ready to key those credit card numbers, expiration dates and shipping addresses too.
CNN calls it a “shopping bonanza”, Fox News says it “far surpassed” expectations. All are putting, in big, bold letters, “sales rising 30 percent”. Many were concerned the heavy focus on smartphones might be a hindrance. Retailers had cautiously brought in the power of the smartphone into their marketing and advertising efforts, with offers of instant coupons, bar coding for additional savings and the ability to price shop with promises that any lower prices found would mean a price match at the register. Even some credit card companies and banks, including CitiBank, offered price match, too. On Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, it quickly became apparent that consumers were more than happy to incorporate that powerful bit of technology, courtesy of their smartphones. Then came Cyber Monday, which, of course, didn’t necessarily mean those same options. Still, though, consumers were using those gadgets, right along with their tables and even their laptops, to take advantage of those amazing holiday price reductions. In other words, the fat lady has sung – and it’s a beautiful tune for both consumers and retailers – not to mention the economy.
All of those predictions that suggested we’re becoming far more comfortable shopping across all screens – computers, smartphones and tablets – along with retailers who taking advantage of the technology, really drove Cyber Monday sales up. IBM Benchmark, a company that tracks online sales, said Cyber Monday sales were led by department stores and as a result, sales jumped an amazing 43 percent. And just in case you’ve not checked your email today, rest assured, many of those sales are being extended. Indeed, it’s shaping up to be a very profitable holiday season, despite economic woes.
There’s a reason, though many might be unwilling to speak that truth. Consumers, frankly, are sick and tired of being sick and tired. They don’t know what happens in the new year with fiscal cliff, they’ve lived the past few years with ever-tightening spending habits, uncertainty in the job market and uncertainty in general as to what a domestic and international economy will look like a few months from now. The least they can do is enjoy the holidays with friends and family and perhaps even splurge a little on gifts for the little ones and other family members.
We have struggled the past four years – even before the official recession began,
said one consumer who was taking advantage of Small Business Saturday in Iowa,
my husband and I decided that this year, the kids will at least get one of two of the gifts they’re actually asking for. My goal was simple: start early and take advantage of all the sales, coupon codes and free shipping offers along with also braving the weather on Black Friday and today.
She said her budget is front and center in her mind, but what she doesn’t find on Saturday, she’s confident she’ll be able to score on Cyber Monday. When asked if she’d pay full price for anything she doesn’t find on sale, she replied,
It depends. We’ve always weighed the benefits of one toy or gadget over another, but if it’s something my daughter or son really want and it has the potential to as relevant in March or April as it is when Santa delivers it, then yeah, I’d pay full price.
The online numbers are impressive, but online shopping still only accounts for 11% of all holiday sales. The numbers are increasing every year, but for now, traditional shopping still rules. The National Retail Federation predicts as a whole, retail sales for the last two months of the year will be up by at least four percent, possibly even reaching $590 billion. Retailers also did their homework this year. One analyst said,
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.
That will surely be a challenge in the coming weeks and into the new year. November sales report, meanwhile, are expected later this week. Those highly anticipated numbers will tell the tale on whose predictions came full circle.
So did you take advantage of the past few days of big savings? Where did you find the most savings: sales from Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday?