Business

Cyber Monday Shift: Holiday Shopping Finds a New Home on Mobile

Shoppers took to the net on Cyber Monday to find bargains. But with more consumers using mobile devices to buy gifts during the holiday season, the retail industry sees the potential for ongoing growth in the space.

Shoppers took to the net on Cyber Monday to find bargains. But with more consumers using mobile devices to buy gifts during the holiday season, the retail industry sees the potential for ongoing growth in the space.

While Black Friday wasn’t as strong as some retailers were hoping this year, retail groups have their eye on one bright spot that seems to be showing a lot of growth: mobile.

According to statistics from the National Retail Federation (NRF), nearly 25 million people were expected to use tablets and smartphones to look for Cyber Monday deals, a 22 percent increase from last year—but more impressively, more than six times as many as the 3.7 million who did so in 2009. That could be a silver lining for retailers in a year when consumers spent less on average during the opening weekend of the holiday shopping season than they did the previous one.

The mobile trend’s upswing is supported by research firms such as ComScore, which found last year that many consumers are using smartphones and tablets to extend their online buying time beyond Cyber Monday—the Monday after Thanksgiving when many online shopping orders are traditionally placed.

According to NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, the current trends speak to the shorter holiday shopping season this year and the value of both brick-and-mortar and online shopping to the retail industry’s bottom line.

“Thanksgiving deals and shopping both in stores and online has evolved over the last decade to something that’s much more than a fad,” Shay said to NBC News. “It’s now become a critical part of the overall weekend.”

Other retail groups are keeping an eye on mobile, too. The Retail Gift Card Association, for example, recently noted in its Holiday Gift Card Trend Tracker Survey [PDF] that many online and mobile shoppers like using electronic codes or gift cards as alternatives to heading to the mall.

But does the growth in mobile and online shopping suggest that Cyber Monday—itself a retail holiday launched via the NRF’s online arm Shop.org in 2005—could lose relevance over time? Perhaps, but not because the shopping is going away. Speaking to U.S. News and World Report, IHS Global Insight economist Chris Christopher noted that retailers may take more Black Friday deals online, especially on items that are harder to get in stores.

“Stores will start blasting the airwaves and emails and special deals on Thursday if not before,” he told the publication.

Buy anything good this weekend? Tell us about it in the comments.

(iStock/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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