News Analysis: Cyber Monday will be the largest ever, Black Friday broke all records and even more cyber-shopping is yet to come as consumers show they are in a bullish mood for holiday spending.
The news for the e-commerce
economy couldn't be better. Online sales for Black Friday were 24 percent
higher than ever. Cyber Monday sales should top $1.2 billion, also a new record, according
to analyst firm ComScore.
But the news gets better.
According to ComScore's Andrew Lipsman, Cyber Monday isn't even the best online
shopping day of the holiday season, and probably won't be the best this year.
Lipsman says that buying patterns have shown that there will be several days in
December with bigger sales than Cyber Monday
This is, obviously, wonderful
news for online retailers. Business is up, in some cases substantially. Some
reports have put traffic at Amazon at 50 percent higher
than at this time last year, for example.
According to a report in Billboard,
Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target and Apple all saw huge traffic increases.
If this increase in online
sales were paired with flat or declining sales at physical stores, then it would
indicate that the trend was simply to buy stuff online and avoid the crazed
shoppers wielding pepper spray, 9mm handguns or worse. But that's not the case.
Sales at physical stores also increased to record levels.
So what does this mean? At a
minimum, it means that holiday shopping is off to a much bigger start than anyone predicted
, and it shows that online sales
have really taken off. But in reality, it means more than that. The extremely
strong e-commerce activity, expected to strengthen even more as December comes
along with its surge of holiday shopping, is demonstrating that the gloomy
economic reports that have been hitting the headlines lately are simply
The fact that they're gloomy
doesn't mean they're right. Consumers, especially in the U.S., have gotten used
to hearing bad economic news over the past four years: There's a recession. The
recovery will be accompanied by week job growth; there'll be a double-dip
recession; Europe is on the verge of a Eurozone financial collapse; and things
are going to Hell, with or without a handbasket.
But the fact is that the
real economy isn't controlled by headlines. As much as we in the journalism
business would like to think about our value, we can't control the economy. So
despite our continued cries of "recession," it isn't true if the consumers say
it isn't. And that's what they're saying.
Instead, the very strong sales
at the beginning of the holiday shopping season are telling us that the
economy, especially the critically important consumer confidence level, is
doing very well. Sales are up across the board. People are spending their money
on things besides necessities, and they're spending freely.
E-commerce plays an
important role in this surge of economic activity. First, there's very little
friction when consumers buy online, which means there are fewer barriers to
getting consumers to spend money. When shoppers go online, they generally know
what they are looking for, know where to go to find it and are ready to click
the buy button when they do.