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Would a Thanksgiving and Black Friday push that saw retailers pushing online deals as hard as they were pushing offline deals have a negative impact on Cyber Monday?
Some retail industry observers argued that retailers eager to make Black Friday a multichannel event might simply shift purchases that would have come on Cyber Monday.
Holiday shoppers sprinted to snatch up bargains last week, so were the cautious observers right?
It's impossible to know for sure, but with Cyber Monday now behind us, one thing is certain: if such a shift did occur, it didn't put a noticeable damper on Cyber Monday shopping.
According to comScore, Cyber Monday 2011 marked the second year in a row that Cyber Monday delivered more than a billion dollars in sales. As announced by comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni, "Cyber Monday was yet another historic day for e-commerce, with online spending reaching a record $1.25 billion."
In 2010, Cyber Monday broke the billion dollar barrier for the first time, producing $1.02bn in sales. So this year's $1.25bn haul marks an impressive year-over-year gain of 22%.
Driving the growth was an 11% increase in shoppers making an online purchase on Cyber Monday (a record 10m) and a 9% increase in dollars spent per shopper, from $114.24 in 2010 to $124.82 in 2011. Interestingly, there was a slight decrease in transactions per buyer, hinting that some shoppers decided to spend more at fewer online retailers.
With a record Cyber Monday in the bag, speculating about the rest of the holiday shopping season is even more interesting.
Historically, Cyber Monday spending had been surpassed later in the holiday shopping season, but that changed for the first time ever in 2010. Given the efforts online retailers have made this year to get shoppers to open their wallets before December, and the success with which they've been able to do it, it seems unlikely that 2011 will see another day that surpasses $1.25bn in sales.
But holidays are all about surprises and even if Cyber Monday represents the pinnacle of the holiday shopping season, expect a few more surprises this year.