Despite all that talk about Cyber Monday not being a real thing, the numbers are in, and it most certainly is: With $1.465 billion in sales (and... sales!), this Monday broke the single-day record for American online shopping, according to comScore. But it's still to soon to tell if that's because we're shopping more in general, or just when the sales (!) are most pronounced. Cyber Monday may not even end up being the biggest online shopping day of 2012, but it did beat out last year's biggest-ever shopping day, also a Cyber Monday, which rang in at $1.25 billion. And comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni expects the trend to continue. "Cyber Monday has assumed the mantle of top online spending day for the past two years — a trend we expect to hold once again in 2012," he said.
So on the one hand, all those years of marketers talking up Cyber Monday as a Very Important Day to Buy Gifts has seeped into our fingers, it seems, and this country has a bona-fide phenomenon on its hands. A closer look at the 2012 sales figures, however, shows a day with slightly less dominance. This year's big numbers might have more to do with an uptick in online shopping overall, as the comScore chart shows below. Spending on all of the pre-Christmas shopping days is up.
It also looks like people are spreading out their spending at more stores, looking at numbers reported by individual retailers to IBM. Following suit, IBM found more interest in buying on this year's Cyber Monday, with a 30 percent increase in spending. But, that represents a slowed rate compared to last year's 33 percent rise. Adobe Systems found a similar trend, with stores like Best Buy and Walmart seeing more spending, but at a slower growth rate. That's possibly because some online deals started as early as the Thanksgiving and will last through the week.
This year's Cyber Monday bump also has something to do with more people forgoing Black Friday's now-traditional mayhem for the more comfortable and anti-social reality of shopping at your desk. The average "customer spend" on Cyber Monday fell 6.6 percent, says IBM, meaning more people had to do Internet buying to make up for the increase. In addition, Black Friday retail sales numbers were weaker this year. But online buying on that day broke the $1 billion mark for the first time ever, says comScore.
No matter the reason, though, Cyber Monday definitely gets people buying. Maybe it's the name, or maybe it's because people really do like to sit at their computers the Monday after a weekend full of eating browsing store websites for holiday gifts. We suspect it has something to do with the sales, which National Retail Federation claims are the deepest on that Monday. Whatever the case, no matter how phony the holiday's history, it doesn't look like it's going anywhere. Cyber Monday for life, and... sales!
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.