Is Cyber Monday Losing Its Luster?

Chris CrumeCommerce

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There's always a lot of hype around Cyber Monday this time of year, but various sources seem to paint a less than exciting picture about the alleged biggest holiday shopping day of the year.

Do you plan to do some Cyber Monday shopping this year? Let us know in the comments.

Last year, Cyber Monday sales hit a new record. According to USA Today, they rose 16% to a record $2.29 billion based on data from Adobe, which tracked 2,000 U.S. retail sites. By IBM's data, which tracked 800 sites, they rose 21%.

Last year, mobile devices accounted for over 17% of Cyber Monday Sales, which was up 55% from the year before. With mobile device usage surging even more this year, don't be surprised to see all of the above numbers increase significantly.

Shoppers Plan To Spend More, While Being More Disciplined

According to a study by Discover, shoppers are planning to spend more money this holiday season, but to stay "more disciplined". 57% planned to have a budget in place for holiday purchases, which is up from 52% last year.

Specifically regarding Cyber Monday, this year, 18% of shoppers plan to do the majority of their gift shopping on the day, which is up 100% from two years ago.

"Consumers continue to consider mobile devices more as a shopping aide rather than a primary means of buying gifts," the Discover report says. "When asked how they would use their smartphones for holiday shopping, the most commonly reported use was to compare prices while shopping in-store, 46 percent, followed by using them to search for product reviews at 38 percent."

But Still...

While we may see some number increases, especially from mobile, Cyber Monday in general appears to be losing some of its luster.

A Consumer Reports Holiday Poll found that 53% of respondents said they didn't plan to shop any time during the five-day stretch between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. 39% of those surveyed said they're less likely to shop at some point during the span this year vs. last, while only 10% said they are more likely to shop compared to 2013. Of those who expressed shopping intentions, 23% said they intended to do so on Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday Is Starting To Lose Relevance In Terms of Timeframe

Just as Black Friday kind of started happening on Thanksgiving itself (even earlier if you're Amazon), Cyber Monday is pretty much starting on Sunday. FatWallet.com reports that more than 1 in 4 Cyber Monday shoppers will start shopping on Sunday as the popular online holiday event spreads out for several days.

ComScore reports that Cyber Monday and Green Monday have historically been the most important days of the online holiday shopping season, but that Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday have "rapidly gained importance" in the past few years.

"In fact, among the key shopping days, Thanksgiving has had the highest five-year growth rate at 166 percent, while Black Friday has grown 124 percent during that time – both significantly outpacing the growth of Cyber Monday and Green Monday," it notes.

According to Credit Karma, 65% of respondents to a survey planned to do the majority of their holiday shopping in-store.

"Contrary to popular belief, just one out of four respondents plan to actually shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday," it said.

A survey from ecoATM found that more holiday shoppers planned to shop in store than online, with only 18% of Americans planning to do their shopping on Black Friday, and only 7% on Cyber Monday. 44% said they plan to shop for the majority of their gifts during the first few weeks of December.

Bankrate put out a report saying most Americans won't shop on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Millennials are the most likely to shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it says, but 18-29 year-olds are more likely to shop in stores on Black Friday than online.

The Deals May Not Be As Good As Other Days

Cyber Monday may also be losing some relevance in terms of the actual deals that are being offered. GoBankingRates released some findings of an investigation into this year's deals, and the results are "lackluster," as the firm puts it.

The average discount on Cyber Monday will be just 20%, which is four points lower than on Thanksgiving, it says.

"Shoppers will have less time to price-compare deals; experts say most retailers don't want to overshadow their Black Friday doorbusters with Cyber Monday marketing," it said.

It also said out-of-stock messages will increase by 400% on Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday Sales May Not Say Much About Customer Loyalty

Coherent Path has released some research, which it says suggests that new customers whose first transaction involves a discount or special offer are 50% less likely to return to make a second purchase. The firm considers the data an illustration of a significant challenge for many retailers.

“A first-time Cyber Monday customer who purchases something that is marked down may not be as valuable over time as someone who goes online three days later and purchases a product at full-price,” said Dr. Greg Leibon, CTO of Coherent Path. “The reason for this appears to be the motivation of the consumer. Our data shows that when price plays a significant role in the first-time purchase with a retailer, even online, the chance of them becoming a long-term and loyal customer can be low.”

If You Invest In The Stock Market, Don't Be Too Concerned With Coming Figures

Investors probably shouldn't concern themselves too much with Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales data that emerges over the coming days. Mark Hulbert at MarketWatch ran some numbers and analyzed data all the way back to the 70s when the "Black Friday" name first took effect, and found that while stocks tend to fall upon initial retail sales figures, the Dow Jones Industrial average tends to rise over the course of the rest of the year.

"The proper conclusion to draw: fuhgettaboutit," he writes. "The retail sales numbers you’ll get over the next few days will be close to worthless."

So not to be a big downer, but the message we're seeing from a lot of different outlets is that Cyber Monday may not be as big a deal as it's sometimes made out to be, for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, it seems to be losing relevance as a singular day within the holiday shopping season.

Still, IBM is calling for the biggest increase in online sales (15.8%) on Cyber Monday, once again, primarily driven by mobile.

Is Cyber Monday too hyped up, or is it truly something special? Let us know what you think.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.