Consumers Gear Up for Online Shopping on Cyber Monday

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Cyber Monday is the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season. Acting as the online counterpart to Black Friday, it occurs the Monday after Thanksgiving. It is a day for technologically savvy shoppers to take advantage of bargain deals right from their computers. That way, shoppers can avoid long lines, crowded stores and holiday traffic.

As the country becomes increasingly dependent on computers, smartphones and tablets, Cyber Monday continues to pick up steam. However, consumers must be particularly careful about transmitting personal information, like credit card numbers, online.

Cyber Monday: The Facts

Cyber Monday began with no official start and became increasingly popular along with general online shopping. The term was coined in 2005 by Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation. By then, Cyber Monday was already one of the top online shopping days of the year.

Shop.org suggested holiday shoppers preferred online shopping after Black Friday for a number of reasons: consumers may have had better Internet connections at work and waited for the workweek to begin, and shoppers may have attempted to complete their purchases over the weekend but ran out of time.

Consumers made $1.25 billion worth of online purchases on Cyber Monday last year, up from $1.03 billion in 2010 and $887 million in 2009. Polled consumers’ top reasons for online shopping were the ability to shop at any time of day, to compare prices easily and to avoid crowds.

Cyber Monday revenue increases each year mostly because shoppers spend more money and not because there are significantly more shoppers. From 2009 to 2010, about 4 percent more people made purchases on Cyber Monday, but each person spent an average of 12 percent more.

As with Black Friday, Cyber Monday is expanding each year to meet growing demand. Some stores have online deals beginning that Sunday and continuing all week.

In 2010, 88 percent of online stores had sales and discounts for Cyber Monday, up from 72 percent three years earlier. Jewelry stores benefited most from Cyber Monday traffic, followed by electronics retailers, gourmet vendors and home décor sellers.

This Year: What to Expect

Cyber Monday is likely to see more growth this year as more consumers turn to their computers and increase their holiday budgets. But with online deals starting earlier and extending longer each year, many shoppers find there’s no reason to wait until that Monday to do their holiday shopping. More consumers are likely to use home computers over the weekend instead of, or in addition to, using their work computers on Monday.

With applications for mobile devices and comparison sites tailored for thrifty shoppers, it’s easier than ever to find products at the lowest prices. And with stores advertising ahead of time, shoppers can plan their purchases in advance.

Shopping Safely

There is a downside to shopping online: identity theft. The holidays are prime time for the theft of credit card information and unauthorized purchases to consumers’ accounts. That’s partially because shoppers are out in such large numbers and partially because consumers make so many purchases during this time of year that they are less likely to notice out-of-place charges.

To cut down on the likelihood of credit card fraud, shoppers should ensure they have protected connections to store websites before entering personal information. They should always be aware of who is receiving their financial information and should thoroughly check monthly statements.

Shopping online has several benefits over shopping in person, especially when stores are crowded with holiday shoppers. As Cyber Monday continues to expand, it’s important to keep your personal information secure.



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