MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – If many of your co-workers seemed a little less productive Monday you might chalk it up to online shopping.

Monday is affectionately known as Cyber Monday, when retailers put deals online that are simply too good to pass up.

According to the research firm ShopperTrak, store visits on Black Friday rose by about 3.5 percent.

But those shoppers spent slightly less than the previous year. That’s because they were enticed by earlier store openings on Thanksgiving and online sales.

This promises to be the biggest Cyber Monday yet with online sales expected to reach $1.5 billion by day’s end – everything from electronics to flash-frozen steaks.

Sitting at her desk downtown, Linda Oie knows a good deal when she clicks one.

“I’m in the market for an iPhone 5,” Oie said.

She’s among the millions of holiday shoppers perusing the internet Monday, after being flooded with emails advertising Cyber Monday deals with huge discounts and free shipping in time for holiday delivery

“Many times you have an account set up where it’s just a one-click purchase. You don’t even have to pull out your credit card, it’s just there. Quick, easy and I found some really good deals,” she said.

Cyber Monday got its start back in 2005, as retailers noticed a huge flux of online ordering the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend.

In 2005, Cyber Monday sales totaled to $486 million. In 2012, sales are projected at $1.5 billion.

Retailing consultant Jim McComb says Cyber Monday gives companies an early gauge on managing inventories.

“The merchants would like to get as much inventory sold early in the season,” McComb said. “You get close to Christmas…if they don’t have a good preseason, there’s more markdowns heading into the last couple of weeks before Christmas.”

Linda Oie was finding deals up to 75 percent off retail that were hard to pass up.

“I can’t [laughs] and I don’t have to stand in line. I love it,” she said.

What’s interesting is that the strategy to get a jump start on Black Friday seems to have undercut retailers a bit. Sales last Friday were actually down from 2011 because shoppers spread out their buying.

On the other hand, online purchases jumped 17 percent on Thanksgiving Day and a whopping 20 percent last Friday.

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