Fewer people expected to shop Cyber Monday

December 1st, 2014  |  Source: USA Today

Taking advantage of earlier and longer promotions this season, fewer shoppers were in stores or purchasing online over the holiday weekend compared with last year, a trend that's expected to continue into Cyber Monday.

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.

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