The holiday sales rush is on

November 19, 2012 04:58 PM

More online merchants are offering early holiday deals this year, a new study finds.

A survey of 40 online retailers conducted from Sept. 25 to Oct. 11 by consumer research firm BIGinsight and, the digital division of the National Retail Federation trade group, shows that that 97% of e-retailers will offer some kind of special promotion over the Thanksgiving weekend, up from 90% last year.

Specifically, 46% will offer online deals on Thanksgiving Day, while 85% will dole out discounts on Cyber Monday, which is the first Monday after Thanksgiving. Last year, 78% of survey respondents said they would offer Cyber Monday deals.

Those deals include coupons or a percentage off purchases (47% of respondents), limited-time promotions (27%) and other online-only deals (29%). On Cyber Monday, 44% of retailers will offer free shipping without a minimum purchase, and another 29% will offer free standard shipping with certain conditions, the study finds.

Plus, some of the largest online merchants are getting an early start on holiday promotions., No. 4 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, already has an online-only sale dubbed “Big Pre-Black Friday event” going on now, and will officially kick of what it calls Cyber Week on Saturday, Nov. 24, with heavily discounted items added to the site daily until Sunday, Dec. 2. For instance, Wal-Mart is selling a Samsung 55-inch high-definition television for $1,498, which it calls a $1,000 savings, and an Xbox bundle package for $598, nearly $400 off. Free shipping will be available on 100,000 items, the merchant says

Wal-Mart is also highlighting its deals for Black Friday, or the day after Thanksgiving, on its mobile apps, as the merchant says it expects 40% of its online traffic this holiday season to come from mobile devices. The apps’ “in-store mode” allow shoppers to view ads for their store, as well as locate pricing and specific aisle location of Black Friday-discounted products carried in that store. Inc., No. 1 in the Top 500, is also getting an early start on holiday deals by offering large discounts on toys, electronics and other gift items. The merchant’s Black Friday Lightning Deals begin today, with new discounts added daily. The promotional drive will last through Friday, Nov. 24, Amazon says.

UPS is also gearing up for a bigger online holiday shopping season than last year, as it estimates it will deliver 527 million packages in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a 9.8% increase compared with last year’s total of 480 million.




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