121 million consumers are expected to shop online on Cyber Monday

November 29, 2015 04:42 PM

Fewer consumers are expected to shop online on Cyber Monday than did last year—but that’s likely due to retailers spreading out holiday savings over a longer period of time.

That’s according to a just-released study from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, which projects that 121.3 million consumers will shop online tomorrow, down 4.4% from 126.9 million last year. That 121.3 million number represents 49.5% of all consumers, the first time less than half of all shoppers surveyed said they planned to shop on Cyber Monday since 2010. Last year, 52.3% of all shoppers said they were planning to shop online on Cyber Monday.

While fewer people are expected to shop online on Cyber Monday, that’s not necessarily an indication that consumers are expected to shop less this holiday season in general.

“Tomorrow’s gonna be a huge day, there’s gonna be no question about it,” says National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay. “We look at this weekend as the season continues to evolve, it’s almost the second quarter now going on halftime whereas once upon a time this is when the game started. We know that’s not the case anymore. The game starts a lot earlier than Thanksgiving weekend.”

Cyber Monday culminates a 5-day holiday shopping period that this year has been marked by an accelerating shift toward shopping on the web. Adobe Inc.’s Digital Index, based on data from its e-retailer clients, suggests consumers spent $4.47 billion online on Thanksgiving Day and the following day, which is widely known as Black Friday. But store sales—excluding e-commerce—fell about 10% on Thursday and Friday to $12.1 billion, according to ShopperTrak, which monitors traffic to stores and malls.

ComScore Inc. reports that consumers spent $1.096 billion on desktop devices on Thanksgiving Day, up 8.6% from $1.009 billion last year. On Black Friday, shoppers spent $1.656 billion on desktop devices, up 10% from $1.505 billion last year. ComScore, which tracks the online activity data of some 1 million U.S. consumers did not include purchases on mobile devices in this report, which likely accounts for the percentage increase being less than that reported by Adobe, which does include the growing purchases consumers make on smartphones and tablets.

“Looking ahead to Cyber Monday, we expect to see upwards of $2.5 billion in desktop spending as people return to their work computers after Thanksgiving weekend and use some of their down time to continue their holiday gift buying, but without other family members looking over their shoulders," said comScore chairman emeritus Gian Fulgoni.

Retailers say they’ve noticed a change in consumers’ shopping habits.

“Sales are up this holiday compared to the past few years,” says James Wu, chief operating officer of online electronics retailer Newegg Inc. “People are shopping earlier than ever, and they’re responding very well to our early holiday deals, which launched (last) Monday.”

Wu says will be prepared to offer more deals tomorrow. “We’re getting ready to release several hundred new deals to ensure shoppers will have plenty of fresh deals to choose from on Monday,” he says.

Those Cyber Monday shoppers are going to be increasingly mobile this year. 29.6 million said they plan on shopping on a smartphone or a tablet, up 21.2% from 24.5 million shoppers last year, according to the Prosper Insights survey for NRF.

“Looking at the smartphone trend and the mobile device usage for Cyber Monday, that’s the highest level we’ve ever seen,” says Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst at Prosper.

The NRF reports that 103 million consumers shopped online this weekend, with 151 million people shopping either online or offline. The latter is more than the 135.8 million that the NRF originally projected. Goodfellow says the continued growth of online deals and discounts has many shoppers feeling empowered these days.

“Consumers really feel like they have that upper hand with retailers,” she says.

“One-third of consumers indicated that 100% of what they purchased was purchased at a discount,” Shay adds.

And while the trend is towards lowering the free shipping threshold or even eliminating it altogether, Goodfellow says having one in place could help online retailers drive additional and unplanned for revenue.

“When you buy online and you’re trying to meet a $50 or $75 threshold and you have to throw a couple of extra items in your cart to get free shipping, I think there is some impulse buying going on online,” she says. “What our information shows over the past couple of months is if consumers find a great deal, they’ll take advantage of it. That moves into the impulse buying.”

It wasn’t just U.S. shoppers buying from U.S. e-retail sites over the weekend. Pitney Bowes Inc. reports a 38% increase in purchases by Chinese shoppers on Black Friday over last year, based on data from 130 U.S. online retailer clients. Canada was in second place, as purchases from that country increased 3% over last year on Friday, and was followed by the United Kingdom, South Korea and Australia.




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