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Monday, Dec. 1, 2008

Cyber Monday: The New Black Friday?

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The downward spiral of the economy has been gaining momentum for quite some time. People are growing wary of the current low gas prices, waiting for the other shoe to drop as they watch gas prices shoot above $4 dollars a gallon once again. This fear breeds conservative spending habits, and a rethinking of how much cash will be spent this December. Shoppers and retailers were given a preview of holiday sales over Black Friday, and will gain further insight today during what many have referred to as Cyber Monday.

Stores opened their doors as early as midnight on Thursday- before the Thanksgiving leftovers were cold-hoping to give buyers access to special deals they couldn't refuse. As expected, the public didn't disappoint and came out strong for those 'incredible' early offerings.

It's too early to tell if the sales outlook for December will be as bleak as some have predicted, but some believe that's invariably where we're headed. Josh Baten, a sales associate at Radio Shack in Glendale, believes things could have started on a better footing.

"We didn't meet our target," Baten says. "We didn't get the volume of customers we expected." Furthermore, he doesn't know if this past weekend will be an omen of things to come this season. "There were no lines or rush to speak of … just a lack of people in general."

The term Cyber Monday refers to the Monday (today) immediately following Black Friday, the ceremonial kick-off of the holiday shopping season in the United States between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. Whereas Black Friday is associated with traditional brick-and-mortar stores, "Cyber Monday" symbolizes a busy day for online retailers.

Best Buy has already started their "2-Day Sunday-Monday Cyber Monday" sale. By today, many people say some of the best deals will be gone. Technology has enabled retailers to extend the deals via the Web and enhance sales possibilities.

Lynde is a manager at the Target store on Chase Street in Milwaukee (company policy does not allow the use of last names in the media). "Things were good," Lynde said. "We set goals, but I'm not able to disclose whether those were met. Shoppers seemed to be in a great mood, friendly and cheerful."

ComScore is an Internet research company and has proven to be an accurate indicator for the overall performance of the online holiday shopping season. While the year-over-year growth rates for individual online spending days vary significantly throughout the season, Cyber Monday has been within a few percentage points of the final holiday season growth rate over the past several years.

As a potential dismal shopping season commences, we may see more retailers jumping on the cyber bandwagon, making deals available beyond Black Friday up until the holiday. What may have been disappointing news for Black Friday may result in an encouraging online sales season.

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