Cyber Monday websites are launching Post-Thanksgiving savings and online discounts long before Black Friday, and the shopping fenzy isn’t quite over just yet as this year is expected to set some retail records.
IBM Benchmark reported total online sales for Black Friday were up nearly 24% from last year, as of 6 p.m. ET. On Thanksgiving, sales rose more than 17% compared to 2011. Black Friday was the stronger of the two days, eclipsing Thanksgiving by 4:10 p.m. ET.
And a long list of retailers — including Wal-Mart, Amazon, Best Buy and Ann Taylor — unveiled “pre-Black Friday deals” even before Thanksgiving. Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) posted its one-day online shopping discounts on Black Friday, as did beauty brand MAC Cosmetics.
“We’ve absolutely seen this whole weekend turn into one big promotional event,” said Jay Henderson, strategy director for IBM Smarter Commerce. “Black Friday deals are no longer just for the [brick-and-mortar] store, and Cyber Monday deals are no longer just for Monday.”
Cyber Monday’s original appeal, as the first weekday after Thanksgiving, was access to quick Internet speeds while at work. But now broadband at home is ubiquitous, and consumers can also shop on a slew of mobile devices.
And so retailers’ online deals stretch well ahead of Cyber Monday — in some cases, nearly a full week before.
“Retailers are trying to draw consumers in earlier, and one way to do that is to stagger the deals: Pre-Thanksgiving, some on Thanksgiving Day, another set over the weekend, and finally the big bang to close it out on Cyber Monday,” Henderson said.
Mobile devices have become increasingly important during that week before Cyber Monday. The number of consumers using their mobile device to make a purchase on Thanksgiving this year increased 66% from 2011, IBM data show.
Apple’s iPad made up nearly 11% of online shopping traffic on Thanksgiving this year, according to IBM, while the iPhone brought in 9%.
Retailers are taking note. Companies like Macy’s and Target developed special Black Friday mobile apps featuring exclusive deals and store maps.
Still, despite the expanded schedule, Cyber Monday itself remains an important part of the holiday shopping season.
Andrew Lipsman, an industry analyst at data tracking firm ComScore, said he expects sales for the one-day Cyber Monday shopping event to be around $1.5 billion this year. That’s up from his calculations of $1.3 billion in 2011.