Cyber Monday deals to break shopping records, experts say
Hudson Valley shoppers are running their computers and smartphones overtime at work and at home in the hope of snagging deals on Cyber Monday, the No. 1 online shopping day of the year. To many residents, the vast Internet offers advantages that local stores have trouble matching.
When 26-year-old Christian Levis is looking for a holiday gift for his girlfriend, his shopping trip typically means firing up a computer browser or smartphone and cruising to Amazon.com, eBay.com or Google Shopping.
"I do most of my shopping online," he said. "It's almost always cheaper somewhere online . . . I always like to start with Amazon because they have the widest selections. I'll Google stuff or use the Google Shopping aggregator. I'll even go to eBay for things, depending on what it is."
For online shoppers like Levis, the Monday after Thanksgiving -- Cyber Monday -- is when they hit the "buy" button. Research company comScore forecasts Americans will shell out a record $1.5 billion on Cyber Monday this year, $250 million more than in 2011.
GREAT ONLINE DEALS
Amazon.com, which started its Cyber Monday deals at 12:01 a.m. Monday, is offering as much as 60 percent off a Panasonic VIERA 55-inch TV that's usually priced higher than $1,000. Sears is offering $430 off a Maytag washer and dryer, each on sale for $399. And Kmart is offering 75 percent off diamond earrings and $60 off a 12-in-1 multigame table on sale for $89.99.
That's not to say that online shoppers were sitting on their cursors in the days before. Online sales climbed 17.4 percent on Thanksgiving and 20.7 percent on Black Friday, according to the IBM 2012 Holiday Benchmark Reports.
Almost a quarter of all consumers used a mobile device to reach a retail site, and more than 16 percent actually made a purchase with such a device.
Why buy online? Beyond price, Levis, of Eastchester, is attracted to the free shipping offered by many online retailers.
"Once people start giving shipping away and it's cheaper, there's no reason (to shop in person at a store)," he said.
His one concession to shopping in a store: when he buys clothing that he wants to try on for fit and see in person.
The attitude of Levis -- actually, he favors Seven jeans -- is like those of many U.S. shoppers. Online shopping is growing, statistics show, and that is forcing stores to become ever more creative.
In the quarter that ended Sept. 30, for instance, online sales grew 15 percent while total retail spending inched ahead 3 percent, according to digital analytics company comScore.com. For the overall holiday season, comScore predicts online sales will be up 17 percent to $43.4 billion, accounting for more than 10 percent of total retail spending. The National Retail Federation estimates that overall retail sales in November and December will be up 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion.
CYBER MONDAY DOESN'T HELP ALL
Perhaps most significant, consumers in the key 18-39 age range are twice as likely to shop online for holiday gifts as those 40 and older (40 percent to 20 percent), according to the Shoppers Trend Report issued by online coupon provider RetailMeNot.
Sandra Szpicek-Leylegian, the owner of The Things I Love, a gift and home decorating store in New City, understands the challenge. She is refurbishing the store's website but does nearly all her business in the physical world.
"I'm from the old school where I've got to see it, feel it," she said of the shopping experience.
How is she fending off online rivals?
Szpicek-Leylegian acknowledges that she is at war and she is looking for ways to generate more business.
One way, she said, is having unusual products that are not mass-produced.
When someone is shopping online for electronics, he can easily look up a serial number, she said. "But you can't look up a serial number that's handmade."
For the holiday season, the retailer said she has created a "treasure trove," packing the store with stock from around the world worth almost $1 million, from jewelry to vases to baby gifts. The store also inspires loyalty by shipping domestically and internationally and offering free gift-wrapping. For shipments to other states, the store charges no tax. Then there is price. During Black Friday weekend, nearly everything is discounted by 20 percent.
But getting confirmed online shoppers like Levis back in stores can be a tough sell.
"I almost feel sorry for anyone running a retail store," he said. "It's you against the rest of the world."
With The Associated Press