Cyber Monday: Black Friday's resilient competitor

By Caitlin Orton

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Nov. 24 2011 1:00 p.m. MST

Louisa Quintero gift wraps an Internet book order at the Barnes & Noble Distribution Center in Monroe Township, N.J., in 2006.

Mark Lennihan, AP

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As Thanksgiving dinner comes to an end and leftovers are put away, Karin Caswell chooses to skimp on sleep and hit the road. Like many avid "Black Friday" shoppers, Caswell already has a plan of attack and is standing in line hours before the stores open.

Black Friday is a tradition for many like Caswell, but a new day of deals is becoming increasingly popular — Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday is a recent addition to holiday marketing. According to a Business Week article titled “Cyber Monday, Marketing Myth,” the phrase “Cyber Monday” was coined in 2005 by Shop.org in an attempt to promote online shopping. Since then, Cyber Monday sales have been steadily increasing as online retailers amp up their marketing.

In all, consumers spent more than $1 billion on Cyber Monday in 2010, compared to $887 million in 2009, according to a comsScore news release.

For the shoppers wary of long lines and aggressive behavior, Cyber Monday is another option for utilizing deals for Christmas shopping.

Jessica Lyman, a young mother from Eagle Mountain, started shopping on Cyber Monday after she began working for eBay.com.

“I saw the volume of customers and sellers skyrocket, and that’s when I realized how popular it was becoming,” she said. “I started noticing all the good online deals, and having little kids, I don’t want to go to Wal-mart at 4 a.m. and be scared of a cart running me over, not when I can get the same prices online.”

Lyman buys everything from toys to DVDs to headphones to power drill sets, describing her purchases as more random than strategically planned.

“By the time I would make it to Black Friday, most of the good deals would be gone, and I like to take my time to browse,” she said. “Online I get to browse and do a little bit of everything.”

With big-ticket electronics deals, techies are quick to click “Check Out.” Some even save up to buy electronics on Cyber Monday.

Zach Cooper, a 22-year-old student at Brigham Young University-Idaho and a self-proclaimed techie, shops on Cyber Monday but only for electronics.

“I usually spend about $100, which isn’t much compared to what other people spend,” Cooper said. “But I’ve only ever bought technology products, like hard drives, Guitar Hero and video games.”

For Cooper, Cyber Monday isn’t about shopping for gifts for friends or families; it’s about keeping up with technology when the deals are too good to turn down. But at the same time, he said he enjoys being able to relax at home while shopping the deals.

“I’ve shopped Black Friday twice, and it’s hard to get up that early,” he said. “I think it’s more of the geeks who like Cyber Monday rather than Black Friday, the ones who don’t want to be out with all those people and don’t want to stand in line.”

Whether Cyber Monday is a phenomenon for techies, lazy shoppers or moms who can’t stand to wait in line for hours, it's not for everyone. When asked whether she ever considers shopping Cyber Monday, Caswell said she simply prefers seeing what she’s going to buy firsthand.

“I can see the product there in the store, and know I’m getting the right item and that I can walk out of the store with it,” she said. “I like to know I don’t have to worry about shipping, and if it’s local I can return it more easily.”

Caitlin Orton is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C.

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