'Cyber Monday' Offers Silver Lining for Retailers

Online Spending Up 15% on Web's Biggest Holiday-Shopping Day

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Online retailers are getting some unexpected good news after "Cyber Monday," the closely watched Monday following Thanksgiving weekend that has traditionally been a big day for online shopping.

Measurement firm ComScore estimates American consumers spent $846 million online on Monday, a 15% increase from the same day last year. That's welcome news considering e-commerce spending was down 2% during the month of November and was running 4% behind 2007 until Thanksgiving weekend.

"Consumers are clearly responding to retailers' aggressive discounts," said ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni.

Amazon, Target are winners
Judging by traffic, it appears some of the largest e-commerce sites were the biggest winners on Monday. Six of the top-10 retail sites saw increases from last year, according to Nielsen Online, including Amazon, up 25%, Target, up 7%, Best Buy, up 51%, Sears, up 58%, and Toys "R" Us, up 19%.

Sites that saw decreased traffic were eBay, down 2%; Dell, down 11%; and Overstock.com, down 4%. Traffic to Walmart, the third-most-visited e-commerce site, was unchanged from last year. Unique visitors to the 120 retail sites included in Nielsen's eShopping Index were up 13% over the same day last year.

"The combination of aggressive holiday sales and incentives, such as free shipping, across many of the major retailers is helping drive a large number of consumers online this year," said Ken Cassar, VP, Nielsen. "It remains to be seen if people have done the majority of their shopping on these two big shopping days to save time, or if they are holding out for additional sales and promotions."

Search data from Google indicates that consumers were widely aware of special offers, as "best cyber Monday deals" was the search engine's ninth-most queried term that day.

A survey of 60 retailers conducted by Shopzilla found nearly 84% were planning to offer special promotions tied to Cyber Monday, compared with 73% last year.

Steep discounting at the biggest sites may have taken a toll on smaller e-commerce players. Measurement firm Hitwise said the overall share of traffic among the top 500 retail websites was 1% from last year, indicating bigger sites took share.

Waning significance
Discounting may have also played a factor in a steep decline in the size of orders, even as the number of transactions rose sharply. JP Morgan Chase's Paymentech unit, which processes sales transactions for more than half of the top-500 e-commerce sites, said transactions were up 14%, but the value of each transaction fell 12% compared with last year. Paymentech's data come from a representative selection of 25 top e-commerce sites.

It also indicated that the significance of Cyber Monday is waning. More spending is shifting to the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving as more Americans do their online shopping at home, rather than at work.
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