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Retailers Brace For 'Cyber Monday' Onslaught

While the holiday shopping season officially kicks off on the Friday following Thanksgiving, the online sales action, expected to hit nearly $20 billion this year, begins today.

The first workday following "Black Friday" is the first opportunity for consumers to get back to their fast Internet connections at the office after the holiday weekend.

For the past few years, online retailers have found that sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving, now known as Cyber Monday, have been increasing, giving retailers added incentive to launch online discounts and promotions.

According to the Shop.org/BizRate Research 2005 eHoliday Mood Study, 77 percent of online retailers said that their sales increased substantially last year over the preceding year on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

"On Cyber Monday, consumers set their sights on surfing for holiday gifts and shopping online," Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org, said in the study. "This year, online retailers will be capitalizing on the increased traffic by offering special promotions and discounts."

According to the Shop.org survey, conducted by BIGresearch, more than one-third of consumers, nearly 52 million people, say they will use Internet access at work to browse or buy gifts online this holiday season.

The survey also found that more than half of young adults ages 18 to 24, and nearly half of those 25 to 34, will shop online during work hours. The survey also found that men are more likely than women to shop at the office.

"Once the parades have ended and the leftovers are put away, many consumers will find a few precious hours to get a jump-start on the holidays by shopping online," Chuck Davis, Chairman of Shopzilla, said in a statement. "This year, retailers will be reminding shoppers that even though their stores may be closed, their Web sites are always open."

Although U.S. spending on gifts will be down slightly, online buying will rise during the holiday, with 34 percent of all consumers buying holiday gifts on the Internet, according to The Conference Board.

It is likely that bargain hunting will be a big issue this season for shoppers.

According to Internet traffic monitor Hitwise, in the week ending Nov. 19, Google and Yahoo sent 25 percent more visits to the 10 leading shopping comparison sites than they did last year.

Consumers are expected to spend $19.6 billion on non-travel goods on U.S. Internet sites during November and December, up 24 percent from $15.8 billion during the same period last year, according to comScore Networks.

And if the immediate results are a proper indicator, sales through the holiday season are following form.

Nielsen//NetRatings, an Internet media and market research firm, announced today that its Holiday eShopping Index saw a 29 percent increase in shopping from home on the day after Thanksgiving. This year garnered a unique audience of 17.2 million across more than 100 representative online retailers compared with 13.3 million on Black Friday last year.

Toys, video games and consumer electronics made the biggest splash, with computer hardware and software following with the biggest sales increases over last year.



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