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Cyber Monday Shoppers to Buy in Record Numbers; Black Friday Impresses

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Shoppers will hit online retail stores in record numbers this Cyber Monday after flooding the malls of America on Black Friday, according to the National Retail Federation.

A total of 106.9 million Americans plan to shop on Cyber Monday this year, up significantly from the estimated 96.5 million who shopped on Cyber Monday in 2009, the federation said, citing a survey conducted for by BIGresearch. Nearly nine in 10 retailers will have a special promotion for Cyber Monday, according to the federation.

“While the majority of Cyber Monday shoppers will shop from their home computer (89.5%, or 96 million people), a growing number of people this year say they will shop via their smart phone on Cyber Monday,” the federation reported. “More than seven million people (6.9%) will use a mobile device for Cyber Monday shopping, nearly double the estimated 4 million who shopped that way last year (3.8%).”, which is the federation’s digital division, invented the term “Cyber Monday” in 2005 to market holiday promotions and other online discounts following the traditional start of the holiday shopping season on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The Cyber Monday trend keeps growing, and sales now include one-day only deals, percentages off websites and free shipping offers.

Dollar figures of Cyber Monday money spent are not yet available, but the Black Friday weekend numbers suggest online retailers will see growth in 2010. This year, 212 million U.S. shoppers visited stores and websites, up 8.7% from 195 million last year, according to a federation survey conducted over the weekend. People spent 6% more, with the average shopper spending $365, up from last year’s $343, for an estimated total of $45 billion.

Wall Street analysts expect November comparable-store sales to rise 3.5%, Reuters reported Monday.

But Steve Blitz, senior economist with New York-based ITG Investment Research, voiced caution about seeing a significant change in consumer behavior based simply on this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday figures.

“We know that it’s going to be a good holiday season, but you shouldn’t read too much into one weekend’s sales,” Blitz said. “How people are shopping has changed dramatically, and buying patterns against the calendar have shifted. It’s tricky to take one day and come to any grand conclusions. With more online and gift card sales, we’re in the midst of a revolution of how consumers buy things.”

For a truer picture of how early holiday shopping is affecting the economy, Blitz recommended waiting until the U.S. Census releases its November retail sales report on December 14.

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