The Great Debate

It’s time to retire Cyber Monday

It’s that time of year again. Time for Americans to gather, eat turkey with all the fixings, and give thanks for what they’ve got. It’s also time for our old friend Cyber Monday — the Monday following Black Friday — one of the biggest shopping days of the year. But frankly, it’s a holiday we can do without.

I have nothing against online shopping. I’d much rather sip a cappuccino and shop in the comfort of my own home than endure long lines and fight with other harried customers in the post-Thanksgiving rush. But this holiday no longer reflects the realities of digital shopping in 2013.

First mentioned in an announcement by Shop.org on November 28, 2005, Cyber Monday was dreamed up by marketers to address a legitimate consumer need. Few U.S. consumers had high-speed Internet access at home, and it was reasoned that a dedicated day to encourage people to shop online when they returned to work the following Monday would give a boost to holiday sales.

That turned out to be true. But with broadband now reaching almost 80 percent of U.S. homes, as well as the explosion of mobile commerce, Cyber Monday today is more of a learned Pavlovian response than a true need.

There’s no denying that the holiday has been a huge shopping success. It set records for one-day online shopping for the past three years in a row. In 2012, for example, Cyber Monday spending totaled $1.465 billion, according to comScore, making it the single largest online spending day in history. Growth was especially robust in categories such as digital content and subscriptions, consumer electronics and computer hardware — the latter two primarily driven by sales of smartphones and tablets.

Ecommerce loses immunity to economy woes

— Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

For years, Web retailers have touted their convenience and efficiency over conventional retailers, and enjoyed surging double-digit sales growth, especially in the crucial year-end holiday shopping season.

But the steady draining of consumer confidence reflected in recent government data and the latest market research reports suggest the online retail industry is bracing for a humbling first-ever year of flat or even contracting holiday sales.
Ecommerce, for reasons tied to both the global economic crash and Web-specific factors, is poised to fall harder than the much maligned retail store industry, itself struggling with recent high-profile bankruptcies and widespread signs that consumers are looking to sharply curtail their spending.