Posted by: nickgerlich | November 26, 2007

Monday, Monday

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and with it, so has Black Friday. It has been interesting reading student blog replies both before and after that momentous day. My wife and I broke with tradition and ventured out in the pre-dawn hours in the central Indiana chill, and made a token contribution to the economy of the Hoosier State.

According to the pundits, Black Friday was a mixed bag. The long and the short of it is that per-shopper expenditures were down, but the number of shoppers was up. All told, Black Friday sales rose 8.3% over last year, but each shopper spent $12 less (down to $348).

In other words, the bargain hunters were out in force. And Becky and I were two of them. We gobbled up a few Sony 7.2MP digital cameras at Wal-Mart for under $80, and 1GB Memory Sticks for under $20. One camera is a gift; the others are just cheap replacements for our personal cameras. And judging by the lack of excitement over the pallet of cameras, I’d have to say that digital cameras are so 2004 that it resulted in a collective yawn. No, the real door busters this year are GPS units and cheap flat panel TVs.

But that was all last weekend now. Today is Monday, or as they now know in the trade and media, Cyber Monday. Yes, the day we all go back to work and school, and proceed to use company time and university resources to go shopping online.

Cyber MondayEven on Friday, some 32% of shoppers bought online, with sales of $531 million, up 22% from last year. The forecast is for today (and the rest of the holiday season) to post more big gains for online retailers.

One survey, as reported by the Boston Globe, predicted 72 million people would shop online today, up from 60.7 million last year. And while some may question why we should wait until Cyber Monday to shop online when last Friday was just as good as any other day, we must remember that the “tradition” of Cyber Monday sprang up back in the late-1990s when most people did not have high-speed internet access. That meant waiting until Monday to access the T1 line at work.

And while the majority of US residences now have broadband, many e-tailers have geared their promotions to today, including lwo prices and offers of free shipping. Toss in sales tax avaoidance for many people, and suddenly the idea of clicking from home or office sounds pretty attractive.

How important is online shopping? One study showed that 66% of all shoppers check things out online before buying anywhere (online or offline).

I suppose we need a blockbuster Cyber Monday to keep the analysts happy. They appeared to be upbeat after Black Friday’s net gains (even though it was mostly bargain hunting). I have already done my part for Cyber Monday, but it was an electronic gadget for yours truly that I will use in my online classes next semester.

Now consider this: A mere 15 years ago we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, because e-commerce hadn’t been invented yet. And you wouldn’t be reading about it in a blog or in an online class.

Sure beats dealing with crowds.

Dr “Can’t Trust That Day” Gerlich

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