“I find better deals online than in the stores actually, and there’s a better variety online, so it gives you more ideas,” Day said. “It’s convenient, it’s always in stock.”
Holiday sales are expected to grow up to 4.2% this year, but online holiday sales growth has potential to surpass 11% growth.
“Black Friday and Cyber Monday have just sort of blended together and stores are offering sales for days, if not weeks, in advance of the actual specific holidays,” said Riley Dugan, a marketing professor at the University of Dayton who studies retail trends. “People think, ‘well, I’m just going to get a jump on things,’ and they start to do their shopping early.”
That shift is causing some retailers to rethink their approach to the holiday shopping season, as they work out how, and when, to offer the best deals. While many brands lock in their Black Friday plans months in advance — and commit to print ads and television spots promoting their predetermined doorbuster deals — Cyber Monday has become a game of fluid decisions and fast-changing strategies.
“Back in the day, every retail executive had a singular focus: Black Friday,” said Sam Yagan, chief executive of ShopRunner, an e-commerce delivery service for retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Ann Taylor. “Now retailers are setting up war rooms where they’re watching real-time reactions and reacting accordingly. It’s becoming a lot more dynamic.”
Cyber Monday, he said, offers retailers more flexibility in that they can quickly change prices or introduce flash sales hour-by-hour, depending on consumer behavior. The day is also increasingly important for companies’ bottom lines: Americans spent a record $7.9 billion last year, more than double the $3.4 billion they spent on Cyber Monday 2016, according to Adobe Analytics. This year’s forecast is $9.4 billion, nearly 20 percent higher than 2018.
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Debbie Murphy, who does most of her shopping online, also said Cyber Monday wasn’t really on her radar when she was shopping at the Centerville Kohl’s Friday. She may look for deals, but said she doesn’t feel like there’s an incentive to shop that day when there are online deals on Black Friday too.
Shoppers could also be a little paranoid that Cyber Monday is too late to look for gifts this year, Dugan said. Because of how late the holiday fell, there are six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is the first time since 2014 that Cyber Monday has fallen in December.
Younger people who are traditionally blamed for online shopping causing many stores to go out of business are also seeing shopping as an experience again. About 81% of Generation Z shoppers, ages 14 to 24, said they prefer to do their shopping in store, according to a survey by A.T. Kearne
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“We like to shop inside in the store more,” said Jill Kelly, 21 of Germantown, who was shopping with her 18-year-old sister Jessica at JCPenney when it opened at 2 p.m. Thursday. “We’re mapping out all the stores, deals, shopping wise, but I haven’t really seen anything for Cyber Monday yet.”
Without specific Cyber Monday ads, Jessica and Jill Kelly said they didn’t know if they would buy anything today, but they will get online to look. But for the most part, they’d rather go to the store to see and feel the quality of what they’re buying along with having something to do.
“It’s just really that how you want to shop, it’s just getting easier and easier,” said Alex Boehnke, spokesman for the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants. “If you’re someone who wants to shop from the convenience of your home and take advantage of Cyber Monday, well it’s a great time to be able to do that.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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By the numbers
11%: Expected increase in online holiday sales
68.7M: Shoppers expected to look for deals Monday
9%: Decrease in number of shoppers today compared to last year