Cyber Monday sales could reach $1.5 billion

On the heels of data showing a record number of shoppers hit the stores over the holiday weekend, one digital-analysis group says spending on the most important shopping day of the year for online retailers, known as Cyber Monday, could reach $1.5 billion.

According to data released Sunday from comScore Inc., Cyber Monday spending is expected to exceed the $1.25 billion reached in 2011 for a gain of 20 percent. Spending on Cyber Monday — a marketing term coined back in 2005 — has more than doubled in the past five years.

“With Thanksgiving now behind us and most consumers returning to work tomorrow (Monday), we can look forward with anticipation to Cyber Monday, which according to norms we’ve observed over the past three years should be the heaviest online shopping day of the season with sales approaching $1.5 billion or even higher,” said Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman, in a statement.

Forecasts for Cyber Monday sales are slightly less buoyant than what comScore has reported for other key shopping days. The group’s data showed that online sales for Black Friday surpassed $1 billion for the first time. Sales rose 26 percent to $1.04 billion from $816 million seen on Black Friday in 2011.

ComScore data showed that Thanksgiving Day online sales grew 32 percent from a year earlier, to $633 million.

Fulgoni says the data point to the idea that Black Friday is growing more prominent in the e-commerce channel, particularly for shoppers who want to avoid heavy crowds.

“With Black Friday online sales up 26 percent and surpassing $1 billion for the first time, coupled with early reports indicating that Black Friday sales in retail stores were down 1.8 percent, we can now confidently call it a multichannel-marketing phenomenon,” added Fulgoni.

Excluding auction sites such as eBay Inc., according to comScore, the top e-retailer for Black Friday sales was Amazon.com Inc., followed by the websites for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Best Buy Co., Target Corp. and Apple Inc.

Demand for digital books, audio and video content led those sales with a 29 percent gain over the prior year, followed by a 27 percent rise for toy sales and 23 percent for consumer packaged goods.

Amazon.com was among those advertising Cyber Monday deals, such as much as $100 off on selected Sony laptops and a deal offering the Kindle Fire for $129, reduced from $159.

The National Retail Federation said Sunday that a record 247 million Americans shopped in stores and online during the four-day holiday weekend, a gain of 9 percent from the year-ago period. Within that number, 35 million Americans shopped online and in brick-and-mortar stores on Thanksgiving Day, and 89 million shopped on Black Friday.

The NRF expects nearly 123 million consumers to shop on Cyber Monday.

Retailers kicked off shopping even earlier this year, with Wal-Mart, Toys R Us Inc. and Target among those offering “door-buster” promotions even earlier on Thanksgiving eve. Early traffic indicators were giving retailers some hope for what is a critical shopping period for them.

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