Today will mark the tenth time that consumers whose need to spend was not quite quelled during the long Thanksgiving weekend, will return to work and carry-on commerce in one of the latest holiday season retail rituals, Cyber-Monday.
While its easy to overlook Cyber-Monday in favor of its flashier older sister Black Friday, or its over-achieving younger sibling Singles Day, Cyber-Monday has come a long way since its launch in 2005 – when it brought in less that $500 million. This year it’s projected to bring in ~2.6 billion.
So how did what was originally a marketing scheme to extend Black Friday’s spending largesse to the online crowd grow to become a multi-billion dollar retail event in its own right?
Well it all started in
2005 – A Trend Is Named, A Legend Is Born
The term “Cyber-Monday” was first coined by the National Retail Federation through a press release issued by “Shop.org” in a late November 2005. The Press Release “”‘Cyber Monday Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year” touted research done by Shop.org that noted
"77 percent of online retailers said that their sales increased substantially on the Monday after Thanksgiving, a trend that is driving serious online discounts and promotions on Cyber Monday this year (2005)”.
There had been, before the official naming, a sharp uptick in online sales and discounting on the Monday after Thanksgiving, particularly among smaller retailers that tended to get drowned out on Black Friday in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. However, with the official naming of the occasion, Cyber-Monday sales rose 26 percent in 2005 to $486 million.
Cyber-Monday also got its first mainstream media call-out in 2005, The New York Times wrote “
"The name Cyber Monday grew out of the observation that millions of otherwise productive working Americans, fresh off a Thanksgiving weekend of window shopping, were returning to high-speed Internet connections at work Monday and buying what they liked."
2006 – The First Of (Many, Many) Milestones Passed
Cyber-Monday sales jumped-up to a little under $610 million, a 25 percent increase from the year before in year two.
"Online consumer spending on Cyber Monday this year reached $608 million, making it the highest single day in retail e-commerce history and the first day ever to break the $600 million threshold,” said Gian Fulgoni, chairman of comScore Networks. “While it was certainly an historic achievement, the online holiday shopping season is just beginning to kick into high gear."
2007 – Online Holiday Shopping, Also Just Starting To Kick Into High Gear
And, as it turns out, Cyber-Monday spending was also just starting to kick into high gear. Consumers upped their spending another 21 percent during 2007 to o $733 million. Consumers also continued to be rather committed to doing their Cyber-Monday shopping at work, with 45 percent still involved in workplace e-commerce.
"Even though the vast majority of Internet-enabled homes now have high speed connections, shopping from work remains a key component of online holiday retail spending,” noted Mr. Fulgoni. “This suggests that the privacy afforded by shopping at work, without family members looking over one’s shoulder, is one of the important factors in determining where consumers choose to shop online.
Not to mention the ability to perfect their multi-tasking capabilities.
2008 – Cyber-Monday Becomes Less “Monday” Centric
In 2008 online shopping continued to grow, but not as quickly as it had the previous two years, up “only” 15 percent to $846 million. However, according to comScore, online sales throughout the Thanksgiving weekend as a whole picked up more than they had in years past, up 13 percent. That experts said was an indication that shoppers were less interested in waiting to start saving online.
"Consumers are clearly responding positively to retailers’ aggressive online discounts,” noted the ever-present Fulgoni With Cyber Monday promotions beginning in earnest over the Thanksgiving weekend, consumers have finally begun to open their wallets, setting off a streak of four consecutive days of extremely strong growth, and culminating in a Cyber Monday that racked up an impressive $846 million"
2009 – Growth Slows Down… A Lot
After years of double digit growth, Cyber-Monday sales only grew by 5 percent in 2009 to $887 million. The financial crisis had a lot to do with that decline as consumers online and offline snapped their wallets shut. Consumer enthusiasm for shopping at work, however, continued to expand, with 52.7 percent of consumers accessing sales while technically “working."
According to comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni, “comScore data have shown that Cyber Monday online sales have always been driven by considerable buying activity from work locations. That pattern hasn’t changed."
2010 – The Billion Dollar Mark Is Crossed
In 2010 Cyber-Monday sales were up 16 percent from the year before, and crossed the billion dollar threshold for the first time, clocking in at $1.02 Billion.
2011 – Human Resources Gets Sick Of People Shopping At Work
In 2011 Cyber-Monday shopping tipped up another 22 percent to $1.25 billion. However, 7 years of people shopping online had also started to wear on employers. 7 percent of HR manager reported having fired someone over holiday shopping while on the company dime, and more than half (54 percent) had officially moved to block certain e-commerce websites to frustrate covert shopping exercises.
“Most companies assume their employees use some of their break time on the Internet for shopping, checking social networks and other general browsing,” says Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder’s vice president of human resources. “But when it starts adding up, workers need to be aware of company policies and any potential consequences.”
Thank goodness for smartphones.
2012 – Cyber-Monday Turns Into Cyber-Week?
Cyber-Monday sales continued to tick up in 2012, by 17 percent to ~$1.5 billion. Some analysts, however began noting that “Cyber-Modday” could be a misnomer.
"It is an ONLINE holiday shopping for the whole two week period that we now call Black Friday and Cyber Week. Sales have increased at a rate of at least 11 percent for every single timeframe in that span."
2013 – Sales Surpass $2 Billion (Counting Mobile)
2013 was widely considered a banner year for Cyber-Monday, with sales growing 18 percent to ~$1.8 billion in a single day of shopping on the good old desktop. Adding in mobile web’s contribution of ~$400 million, Cyber-Monday took in over $2 billion in sales.
The number of consumers shopping at work went down, with only 47.2 percent of people shopping at work.
As for 2014?
There’s nothing yet for 2014, as Cyber-Monday is unfolding. It’s projected to take in ~2.6 billion in total. The average discount is expected to be 20 percent (slightly lower than the 22 percent average on Black Friday), and consumers are expected to shell-out just under $200 apiece.
Will it happen? Your faithful shopping stewards at PYMNTS will be monitoring the commerce as it happens. For professional reasons only, of course. We would never shop while we are at work (or at least admit to it).