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Is Cyber Monday an Accurate Barometer of Holiday Retail Sales?


Never heard of Cyber Monday? If you're an online retailer, you'd better know the term, because it's the shopping day that's supposed to make you profitable for the holiday season and beyond. Cyber Monday is the Monday that follows Black Friday, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year. If shoppers can't find what they're looking for on Black Friday, they turn to the Internet for their shopping needs on Cyber Monday. At least, that's the theory.

Origins of Cyber Monday, an offshoot of the trade association the National Retail Federation coined the term "Cyber Monday" in 2005 for the holiday shopping season. Now, offers an entire Web site for holiday shoppers,, which highlights online businesses offering holiday specials and discounts. More than 500 merchants ply their wares at the site, including some heavy hitters like Target, Amazon, and K-Mart (which even offers online lay-a-way). That doesn't mean every retailer on the site is a megastore; just about anyone can sell their wares through the site, as long as they meet a few requirements. This year, will be highlighting a hot new deal every hour throughout the day.

Cyber Monday may mean big business for online retailers, but there are many who think the whole phenomenon is really a myth. In studies completed after the holiday shopping seasons since 2005, the actual sales figures show the highest sales totals occurred between December 5 and December 15, debunking the Cyber Monday claims. In fact, in 2005, the biggest online shopping day was December 12, a full two weeks after Cyber Monday.

A Day of Shopping or a Day of Searching?

Studies by Nielsen NetRatings tell a different story about Cyber Monday. Nielsen tracks net numbers and traffic at online retailers. They show Cyber Monday 2005 as the day when the most Internet shoppers were online searching for products. However, they didn't actually spend the most money that day; they waited until they found exactly what they were looking for. That turned out to be December 12, with Cyber Monday bringing in the ninth overall biggest shopping (and spending) day of the season. The same held true for the 2006 and 2007 seasons -- buying numbers were higher on days other than Cyber Monday.

So, this year buyers may log on to retailer sites on Cyber Monday, but they may wait for sales or other incentives before finally deciding to buy. In reality, Cyber Monday may just be a big hint for what's in store for online merchants this holiday season.

Getting Your Business Listed

Do you want to get on the cyber bandwagon next year? Does your company have an affiliate program? If so, you can sign up, pay an integration fee (sometimes waives them during special membership drives), and you can get your online retail location listed on the site. To find out all about it, contact Kristyn Golier at

Do you offer free shipping for your customers? Then check out, a site that brings together merchandisers who offer free shipping on one easy-to-access site. If you want your business included on the site, contact Luke Knowles at Luke and his wife Maisie are co-founders of the site. "We noted that there wasn't a site dedicated to free shipping codes," so they developed one from scratch, she says. They are expecting peak traffic on Cyber Monday, but weren't live for Cyber Monday last year, so they don't have a numbers comparison yet.

Cyber Monday may still be one of the biggest Internet shopping days of the year -- we'll just have to wait for the numbers to see how it pans out this year. operates one of the Web's premier business sites, providing practical information and services for business professionals and growing businesses. See more at

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