Holiday bargain hunters hit the Web in record numbers Monday, reflecting the growing shift in consumer preference for mobile over mall shopping.
Cyber Monday, traditionally a big online shopping day for people back to work after Thanksgiving, was on pace to hit $3 billion in sales for the first time, according to Adobe Systems Inc. That would be a 12% jump from the same day last year and follows a 14% increase in online sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
Increasingly, holiday shoppers turn to their smartphones and laptops rather than trek into stores.
“Consumers love the convenience, and it’s gotten easier to find exactly what you love online,” said Virginia Morris, vice president of global consumer and innovation strategy at Daymon Worldwide, a retail consulting and research firm.
During the Thanksgiving weekend, 103 million people shopped online compared with 102 million who went to stores, the National Retail Federation said.
Although online sales are rising, spending in bricks-and-mortar stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday clocked in at $12.1 billion, down slightly from $12.3 billion a year ago, according to ShopperTrak.
Many shoppers are like Oladipo Williams, 38, who tried Black Friday shopping for the first time last week at a Wal-Mart store on Crenshaw Boulevard. But the sales representative for Gold’s Gym was annoyed by the thick crowds and said he’d rather stick with shopping on the Web.
“I get my feet up, remote control in one hand and the cellphone in the other,” the Ladera Heights resident said. “It’s way better.”
Monday online shopping was so brisk that some customers experienced delays while browsing or checking out on several websites, including Wal-Mart and Target.
When shoppers logged onto the Target website, some saw a screen asking them to “hold tight” as high traffic was causing delays. Target said customer visits were twice as high as during its busiest day ever but that the site was not down.
Gilbert Diaz, manager of the Target store in Eagle Rock, said he’s seen shoppers previewing the chain’s online deals while waiting to get inside when doors open Thanksgiving night.
“More guests are shopping by phone,” he said.
Adapting quickly to shoppers who think nothing of buying presents on their smartphones will be crucial to winning the holiday season, when retailers can haul in up to 40% of their annual revenue, analysts said.
The National Retail Federation forecasts that sales during November and December will climb 3.7% to $630.5 billion, slightly below the 4.1% growth in the same period last year.
The trade group said that 25% to 30% will use their mobile devices to shop on Cyber Monday, up from about 4% just five years ago.
From Thanksgiving through Sunday, 32% of online sales were made on a mobile device, with 20% from a phone and 12% from a tablet, according to Adobe, which based its analysis on more than 125 million visits to more than 4,500 websites. Online orders were $135.25 on average, an increase of 4% from last year.
“The holiday season continues to evolve … as shoppers continue to engage with retailers in new and different ways,” said Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation.
That evolution has included a stretching of the holiday season.
Retailers now begin rolling out holiday promotions right after Halloween, compared with years past when Black Friday really kicked off the gift-buying season. Nearly 60% of shoppers started their holiday spending before Thanksgiving, the highest proportion ever reported, the National Retail Federation said.
The longer shopping season has not only eaten away traffic on Black Friday, but also apparently Cyber Monday. Although sales will hit all-time highs, the number of consumers who planned to browse online Monday was forecasted to be 121 million, down from 126.9 million a year ago, the National Retail Federation said.
“There is going to be less importance on specific days as you see this extended calendar continue,” Morris said.
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