Further signs of a healthy holiday season emerged on Cyber Monday, when major retail stocks closed up higher and websites began releasing preliminary selling reports that reflected vigorous shopping and aggressive promoting on the day.
Retail stocks were also lifted by reports that Thanksgiving weekend saw robust online activity and reasonably decent traffic at brick-and-mortar stores and malls. Consumers this holiday season seem to be in a better spending mood, whether that’s online or in stores, being armed with more cash in their wallets and a better outlook on employment and the economy. There is also pent-up demand for apparel, particularly outerwear.
On the stock exchange Monday, Express rose 5.6 percent to $8.25; Gap up 1.3 percent to $30.02; Nordstrom rose 0.9 percent to $41.34; Amazon was up 0.8 percent to $1,195.83; Macy’s rose 0.6 percent to $21.21; TJX closed up 0.1 percent to $70.96, and Wal-Mart rose 0.01 percent to $96.63.
A few retail stocks slipped in Monday’s trading session. Target was down 0.07 percent to $55.84, while Vera Bradley was down 0.2 percent to $8.17. And the Home Shopping Network Inc. saw its shares fall 2.2 percent to $40.45.
To top last year’s results, Amazon crafted thousands of “lightning deals” spanning more than 30 categories. The e-tail giant offered customers a head start by rolling out promotions as early as Saturday, with more planned in the coming days. Amazon also granted voice shoppers talking to their Alexa voice assistants early access to select Cyber Monday deals on Sunday.
RetailMeNot listed some of the best Cyber Monday deals, citing up to 70 percent off at Best Buy and Amazon, Old Navy’s 50 percent off its entire site, and Aéropostale’s offer of up to 75 percent off everything.
According to Adobe Analytics, “Cyber Monday is on track to become the biggest U.S. online shopping day ever.” As of 4:30 p.m. EST, Adobe reported $3.38 billion in online sales revenue, representing 16.8 percent year-over-year growth. Adobe also suggested plenty of sharp markdowns running frequently, with toys reduced in price by 18.8 percent since Oct. 1., computers priced down 14.7 percent, and TVs down 21.1 percent.
Ebates, which is offering up to 25 percent cash back on Cyber Monday purchases, said it believes that this year’s Cyber Monday will be the “biggest” ever. “Early estimates showing 20 to 25 percent growth as TV, apparel, toys lead the shopping frenzy.”
Criteo, a commerce marketing firm, reported a 9.9 percent increase in shoppers and a 20 percent increase in purchasing at noon EST. Criteo suggested the differential between those numbers indicated that shoppers may have browsed over the holiday weekend but were ready to buy on Monday. Criteo also said e-commerce, typically during the year, peaks during lunch hours and again from 8 to 9 p.m. after most people have finished dinner.
EBay said that as of 10 a.m. EST Monday, $840 million was spent online, representing 16.9 percent growth year-over-year. EBay’s early shopping data showed that electronics continue to trend ahead, with an Apple MacBook Air selling one unit every five seconds. Gaming consoles were hot as well.
EBay’s strategy involved unveiling new deals every hour through the day. The company expected shopping to peak between noon and 1 p.m. Pacific time, based on historical trends.
Other hot deals on eBay early in the day were the Apple 13.3-inch MacBook Air priced at $744.99; the $100 Lowe’s gift card priced $91 selling at a rate of one every seven seconds, and the $100 Cabela’s gift card priced at $82 sold every nine seconds. The Xbox One S, priced at $169.99, was selling every 12 seconds.
“Cyber Monday promotions may not be greater than Black Friday but new product is expected to be offered to stimulate purchases,” said Dana Telsey, founder of Telsey Advisory Group. Kenneth Cole’s web site, for example, launched a bunch of high-top boots as doorbusters, and also said its entire site was 50 percent off, excluding the doorbusters.
Cyber Monday is at a “tipping point,” Bart DeFoor, principal consultant and retail expert with North Highland Consulting, told WWD. “It could either take over Black Friday as a focus for retailers or further combine with Thanksgiving and Black Friday to become more of a cyber-focused holiday. Expectations from several sources note that Cyber Monday 2017 may potentially be the largest digital shopping day in history, with more than $6 billion in purchases taking place. This shopping holiday might become less impactful in future years as the holiday season continues to elongate and we continue to shift to a ‘cyber everyday’ mind-set.”
“What was really different from other years was the timeliness of retailers sending out invitations to participate,” said Marshal Cohen, chief analyst at NPD Group. “It wasn’t everybody all at 6 a.m. or midnight. There’s been staggered invites from different retailers offering up their deals. That’s a big difference from last year.”
Several retailers were advertising “Cyber Week.” Though Cyber Monday is seen setting records, the extended promotions through the week will siphon some business from the actual day.
Sears Holdings, for example, advertised “Cyber Week deals” on sears.com and kmart.com through Dec. 2, including home appliances up to 40 percent off, an extra 10 percent off tools, and up to 50 percent off sporting goods. Also among the litany of deals revealed Monday, the Sears and Kmart divisions are offering free home delivery for online purchases on all orders over $399, through Dec. 25, and through Dec. 2, Sears is offering hundreds of dollars in points depending on how many Kenmore appliances were purchased.
At Macy’s, an e-mail touted “Cyber Week Specials” that began on Sunday and would run through Wednesday. Macy’s on Monday promoted an extra 20 percent off, with exclusions. Some categories were just an extra 10 percent off.
Cabela’s, which sells hunting supplies, camping gear, clothing, footwear and fishing equipment, advertised that it was “dishing out deals during Cyber Monday and Cyber Week” for a “full week of hot savings” at cabelas.com.
Open Road Integrated Media, a digital publishing company, also got into the Cyber Week mode, unveiling sales across their online retail partners beginning Cyber Monday, discounting hundreds of book titles at Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google and Kobo through the week.
Despite all the excitement surrounding accelerated revenue growth online, analysts still believe in the viability of brick-and-mortar stores. “There has been a significant amount of debate surrounding the shifting importance of brick-and-mortar retail,” said Brian Field, ShopperTrak’s senior director of advisory services, “and the fact that shopper visits remained intact on Black Friday illustrates that physical retail is still highly relevant and, when done right, profitable.”
“There are 22 percent of consumers who tell us they love the sport of shopping, and they will do it by hook or by crook,” Cohen said. “They’re not going away. They’re not going to get smaller, they’re not going to spend less….Some people live for that, just like some people live for football.”
“One of the most important trends we are seeing across categories is ‘webrooming,’ which is a combination of buying via retail showroom and using digital devices,” said Ian Baer, chief strategy officer at Rauxa, a digital marketing agency for brands such as Vans and Gap. “People now anticipate they can start shopping for an item from their phone, perhaps research it further from their desktop at work, and expedite their path to try on or touch the item for themselves in a retail store. Or buy something online and return or exchange it in person, no questions asked.” According to Baer, two-thirds of consumers say they will shop online and buy it in-store this holiday season, reversing historic trends in which people shopped in stores and then bought at a cheaper price from Amazon.
“It’s pushed Amazon to get aggressively into the brick-and-mortar retail space, while forcing traditional retailers to re-imagine their in-person shopping experiences to be more of an extension of online shopping,” he added.