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Shoppers spend at a record pace on Cyber Monday

UPS man delivers an Amazon package
A UPS man delivers an Amazon package to a residence in North Andover, Mass. Shoppers were on track to spend a record $9.4 billion on Cyber Monday.
(Elise Amendola / AP)

Cyber Monday is still holding up as the biggest online shopping day of the year, even though many of the same deals have been available online for weeks and the name harks back to the days of dial-up modems.

Shoppers are expected to spend a record $9.4 billion on purchases made on their phones and computers Monday, up about 19% from last year’s Cyber Monday, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 U.S. online stores.

The busiest time is expected to be in the hour before midnight, as people race to take advantage of discounts before they disappear.

Cyber Monday was created by retailers in 2005 to get people to shop online at a time when high-speed internet was rare and the iPhone didn’t exist. The idea was to encourage people to shop at work, where faster connections made it easier to browse, when they returned from the Thanksgiving break.

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“It’s somewhat antiquated,” said Rob Graf, vice president of strategy and insights at cloud computing company Salesforce, which tracks shopping behavior of the online stores that use its platform. “But retailers are still using it as a big milestone and driving heavy discounts.”

At least one brand played up Cyber Monday’s origins: Bonobos, the men’s clothing seller owned by Walmart Inc., photographed models posing with clunky computers and black-and-white TVs for its site.

“Boot up the dial-up,” one of its Cyber Monday ads said.

On average, retailers offered 30% off on Monday, the steepest discounts of the year, according to Salesforce.

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Some have been offering deals for days. Amazon started offering Cyber Monday deals on Saturday, calling the three-day extravaganza “Cyber Monday Weekend.”

Walmart kicked off online discounts for the holidays a week before Halloween. It was a way to combat the shortened holiday shopping season.

Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. This year, that was Nov. 28, cutting the typical time between Thanksgiving and Christmas by nearly a week, making it the shortest stretch between the two holidays since 2013.

Adobe said the bestselling toys on Cyber Monday were those related to the “Frozen 2” movie, “Paw Patrol” show and the LOL Surprise brand.

TVs from Samsung and laptops by Apple were also hot sellers. And Amazon’s devices, such as its voice activated Echo, did well, too.

Not all online shopping ended with a box being delivered. Despite frightful weather in parts of the U.S. this weekend, buying online and picking up in a store has become a popular option, growing 43% so far from last year.

“These services are breathing new life into physical stores,” Adobe said. “And we expect growth to climb as we get closer to Christmas.”

This year’s Black Friday was the biggest ever for online sales, as fewer people hit the stores and shoppers rang up $7.4 billion in transactions from their phones, computers and tablets.

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That’s just behind the $7.9 billion haul of last year’s Cyber Monday, which held the one-day record for online sales, according to Adobe.

Traffic at stores fell 4.2% on Thanksgiving and Black Friday from a year earlier, according to figures from RetailNext. It tracks in-store activity at tens of thousands of locations, including specialty apparel retailers, big-box stores and mall-based stores. The drop in traffic helped lead to a 0.96% dip in sales.


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