Amazon.com employees pack up an outbound shipping truck at an Amazon.com Fulfillment Center on “Cyber Monday” the busiest online shopping day of the holiday season Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
NEW YORK (AP) — Power up and shop.
Millions of Americans logged on to e-commerce sites Monday to take advantage of deals ranging from free shipping to hundreds of dollars off electronics and half-price clothing on what was expected to be the busiest Internet shopping day of the year. And many of those purchases were made using mobile devices.
The spending surge associated with Cyber Monday came after a disappointing Thanksgiving holiday weekend in stores. It also showed that shoppers are increasingly comfortable buying on tablets and smartphones.
Joel Anderson, president and CEO of Walmart.com, said 2013 would be the “tipping point” for mobile shopping.
Early results indicated online shopping was up 17. 5 percent compared with the same time last year, according to figures by IBM Benchmark. Mobile devices accounted for more than 29 percent of all online traffic.
Brandon Harris, 27, from Memphis, Tenn., started shopping at midnight Sunday and by Monday had spent around $300 and completed half of his Christmas shopping, including a Barbie doll for his niece and a TV for his mother.
“I haven’t shopped for a Christmas present in a store in three years,” he said, making purchases from his iPad instead. “It’s a lot more convenient to be at home and shop.”
The National Retail Federation, a trade group, predicted that more than 131 million people would shop online Monday, up about 2 percent from last year. Meanwhile, UPS expected to pick up more than 32 million packages on Monday, about a million more than on the same day last year.
Research firm comScore forecast Cyber Monday sales of $2 billion, up from about $1.47 billion last year. Online sales account for about 10 percent of total holiday spending, which was projected to grow about 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion for the months of November and December.
Anderson predicted that Cyber Monday would be the site’s busiest day ever.
More than half of Walmart.com’s traffic came from smartphones and tablets on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. He expected the same to be true on Monday.
“2013 is the year online went mobile,” Anderson said.
Arthur Baynes, 30, was checking out email deals on his smartphone. The travel insurance claims adjuster from Richmond, Va., was looking for a new TV and Blu-Ray games for his younger relatives.
“When I’m looking for something, I’ll look it up on my phone and then use the Amazon app on my iPad to buy,” he said Monday. “It’s just easier. I don’t have to sit down where my computer is.”
Cyber Monday comes after retailers failed to boost spending during the holiday weekend. They offered big discounts in early November, and several opened stores on Thanksgiving Day. But the NRF predicted that spending fell for the first time, down 2.9 percent to $57.4 billion, during the four days that ended Sunday.
About 81 percent of retailers planned to offer deals specifically for Cyber Monday, according to the NRF’s online arm, called Shop.org.
The name Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 by Shop.org to encourage people to shop online. After retailers revved up deals for the day, it became the busiest online shopping day in 2010.
But since then, retailers have expanded deals, stretching them into Cyber Week or even Cyber Month. This year, retailers such as Amazon and Wal-Mart rolled out online deals beginning in November.
Belus Capital management analyst Brian Sozzi said that will probably become typical of the start of the holiday shopping season.
“The consumer has become immune to Cyber Monday and Cyber Week,” he said. “They just want the discounts continually once the calendar hits November.”