For most Americans, Black Friday is the perfect day for shopping. The holidays are right around the corner, most people have the day off, and there are sales galore. But because most of us have all-day access to the greatest shopping mall in the world – the Internet – the first Monday after Thanksgiving is just as big. And it’s getting bigger all the time.
First, a little history. Cyber Monday was christened by an anonymous Shop.org employee in 2005, and sales have increased every year since the unofficial holiday’s inaugural year. They should increase by another 21.4% this time around, and the reasons aren’t mysterious: Cyber Monday gives online retailers an incentive to offer their customers slashed prices and free shipping – and since everybody loves free shipping and sane people hate crowded malls, it turns out that appealing to “set C” in the holiday shopper Venn diagram is a pretty profitable strategy.
This year, businesses are preparing for the digital stampede by increasing the computing capacity of their sites. A survey by RackSpace, a cloud hosting company, found that 81% of surveyed online retailers planned on taking steps to make online shopping easier for their customers. QVC has even gone so far as to rename the holiday in response to a projected 142% increase in their mobile sales. It’s a marketing gimmick, but “Mobile Monday” is based on the fact that more and more people today are doing their shopping while at the local cafe – or even while sitting on the toilet – as a result of the increased popularity of smartphones, tablets and other devices.
Online retailers are offering some pretty great deals this year, too. If your teenager has been begging you for a tablet, check out Gizmodo’s Cyber Monday cheat sheet. There you’ll find a comprehensive guide to all of the electronics and games that will be on sale this Cyber Monday. Some major scores include refurbished Samsung Galaxy tablets on sale at Buy.com for $360 (that’s over $100 less than the sticker price), and Sony’s Tegra2 tablet for $383 at Amazon.com (where it’s usually sold for $500).
So anyway – how about it? Is Cyber Monday a new American ritual? Is it here for good?
There’s just no question that American consumers dig Cyber Monday, but for some reason, analysts periodically question whether the holiday will survive. Nothing is stopping online businesses from offering deals on Black Friday, after all, and now that we’re all a little more familiar with online shopping, what’s the point? Isn’t Cyber Monday sort of like the Eighth of July in a way? We all know that post-holiday holiday. That’s the one where Uncle Joe is drunk on the porch again, and somewhere, way out in the woods, a single bottle rocket whistles and bangs every few minutes.
But no, Cyber Monday isn’t really like that at all. There’s just something about it that makes us think this holiday is here to stay. It’s another distinct opportunity for retail promotions. People can shop from work on Monday to pick up the stuff they missed at the mall on Friday. And if online businesses were to attempt to compete directly with Black Friday sales events, they’d clearly lose out. People are busy on Friday. They’re spilling blood at the mall, fighting for deals.
In the end, the secret of Cyber Monday’s success is easy: it’s the alternative Black Friday. It’s for slackers, mall-haters, most husbands, agoraphobics and people who lack the Darwinian preadaptation for murder at the drop of a stuffed toy. So thank you, American commerce, for giving us a second option. Long live Cyber Monday!