The National Retail Federation expects about 127 million people to shop online Monday, down from about 131 million who planned to shop online last year on Cyber Monday.
NRF CEO Matthew Shay attributes the shift in shopping patterns to the fact that some consumers may feel better about the economy and are less frantic about chasing deals, combined with shoppers recognizing they can get online deals all season long.
Black Friday promotions started a week or more earlier in some cases this year and most major retailers offered Black Friday prices both in stores and online over the weekend. Cyber Monday will last multiple days at retailers including Target, Walmart, Old Navy, Staples, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s, all of which started offering deals over the weekend.
The nature of 24/7 online shopping may be decreasing the need to head to stores for deals, some data show. Besides convenience and avoiding crowds, 77% of online shoppers over the holiday weekend said they went to the Web because they found better or comparable deals, according to data from Consumer Electronics Association.
For the remainder of the season, “every day is going to be Black Friday, every minute is going to be Cyber Monday,” Shay says. “(Retailers) can’t let up for an instant because of the competitive nature of what’s happening out there.”
IBM Smarter Commerce, which tracks online sales data for retailers, still expects Cyber Monday to be the peak online shopping day of the year. “Retailers are holding back some inventory and working on new promotions to (entice) consumers to continue to shop Monday and throughout the whole week,” says Jay Henderson, director of IBM Smarter Commerce.
Online and mobile shopping soared over Thanksgiving and Black Friday and many retailers already broke online records when shoppers started spending on Thanksgiving.
Target said it experienced a more than a 40% increase in online orders and sales on Thanksgiving. Walmart had its highest three-day stretch ever of online traffic and orders from Thanksgiving through Saturday. Overall, Smarter Commerce reported online sales on Thanksgiving were up 14.3% over last year, driven by significant mobile use: smartphones and tablets accounted for more than half of all online traffic Thursday.
That’s likely to shift Monday when more people are expected to shop on desktops or laptops while at work, Henderson says.
Walmart hopes it will see more shoppers than last year on Cyber Monday, says Fernando Madeira, CEO of Walmart.com. Cyber Monday was its biggest online shopping day of the year in 2013. This year, it has doubled the number of deals that will be available online, and is offering exclusive promotions on items available for same-day pickup, as well as a round of evening-only deals aimed at people shopping after work.
“We believe we’re well positioned to capture the traffic,” Madeira says. “We expect more momentum.”
Overall, fewer people shopped in stores and online over the holiday weekend, according to NRF. Traffic was down 5.2% from 2013 and total spending was expected to reach $50.9 billion by Sunday, down from $57.4 billion estimated for the same period last year.
“Shoppers have changed the way they view exclusive deals,” Shay says. “They have this expectation that it’s going to be there all the time.”