Shoppers flock online for growing Cyber Monday deals
There's still one place holiday shoppers don't have to deal with the pushing, shoving and even pepper spraying unleashed by other no-holds-barred consumers: online.
And this Cyber Monday is when retailers post discounts to rival Black Friday, now making it the biggest online shopping day of the year.
"With online coupons like Groupon and Living Social, the idea of getting discounts online is something consumers are conditioned to," said Natalie Wood, assistant director of Saint Joseph's University's Center for Consumer Research.
Cyber Monday is expected to set a spending record this year following a buffo Black Friday weekend, which saw consumers fork over an estimated $52.4 billion, including online, the National Retail Federation said Sunday. That's up 16% from last year.
For Cyber Monday, Wood predicts a swifter rise in "sofa shopping" -- when consumers can buy comfortably via their tablets or smartphones -- instead of hitting bricks-and-mortar locations.
Shawn Dubravac, the Consumer Electronics Association's director of research, said consumers should be on alert for deals that already began before Cyber Monday.
Staples.com, for instance, kicked off its deals starting at 6 a.m. Sunday through Monday, including free shipping on orders of at least $50.
Other retailers, such as Walmart, are offering weeklong deals.
Some are also doing quick-hit offers that only last during a specific time with a limited inventory.
"That's the Groupon effect, where retailers offer lightning deals or flash sales that promote a certain product," Dubravac said. "Amazon has a full site dedicated to Black Friday-esque deals."
People are taking advantage of it: Consumers spent nearly $1.03 billion last Cyber Monday, up 16% from 2009, according to tracker comScore Inc. That could increase by a double-digit rate again this year, reports say.
Wood said that social media is helping to drive the popularity of Cyber Monday as a marketing device, thanks to the use of Facebook, Twitter and QR codes.
"For some, shopping is a social experience ... but for many of us, it's a chore," she said. "Doing it online makes it easier."
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by the numbers
$1.03 billion: How much consumers spent last year, according to comScore Inc.
$887 million: How much they spent in 2009
92.5%: Online retailers surveyed who plan to offer free shipping, according to Shop.org
400,000: Items for which BestBuy.com will offer free shipping on this year until Dec. 27