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Promotions Galore Expected on Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday
Gloom and doom predictions abound this holiday season. But in crisis there may be opportunity, according to a new survey from Shop.org, the trade group representing online retailers.

Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation, polled its members and found that online merchants are planning to pull out all the stops to draw shoppers to their sites when the workweek resumes after the Thanksgiving holiday.

The first Monday after Thanksgiving (and after Black Friday) is known as Cyber Monday, a recently minted kickoff to the e-commerce holiday crush. According to Shop.org, which coined the term, the day marks the occasion when workers rouse themselves from their tryptophan slumbers and file into the office for a long day of online shopping on company time.

Shop.org found that 84 percent of retailers are planning a special promotion for Cyber Monday, such as free shipping offers, e-mail campaigns and one-day sales. That figure is a high-water mark, up from 72 percent in the trade group's survey last year.

"As shoppers focus on price this holiday season, online retailers will be extremely competitive to offer the very best deals," Scott Silverman, Shop.org's executive director, said in a statement.

Deep discounts may prove to be a key strategy for survival this holiday season, as retailers entering the make-or-break period of the year are buffeted by doomsayers heralding this as the worst economic crisis of a lifetime, while a lame-duck Congress may stay in session through the holidays as it tries to put a Band-Aid on the hemorrhage.

Merchants joining in on the Cyber Monday discounting will have a sizable audience, as the survey found that 55.8 percent of workers with an Internet connection -- 77.8 million people -- plan to peruse the Web for holiday gifts on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

In a previous market analysis, Forrester Research forecasted depressed consumer spending this holiday season. Then in October, online metrics firm comScore reported that online spending rose just 1 percent from the same month in 2007, the lowest year-over-year increase since the firm began tracking e-commerce.

comScore's figures jibe with a recent survey from MyPoints, an online loyalty and rewards program, which polled its members and found that 82 percent plan to spend less online this year than last.

But it's not just niche firms that are courting the thrifty. E-commerce giant eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) yesterday launched its $1 Doorbuster promotion, a half-month series of deals offering premium merchandise for a dollar.

Through the promotion, eBay will place a series of items, such as digital cameras, GPS devices -- even a Chevrolet Corvette -- on its site for a dollar at undisclosed times, available until they sell out. The promotion runs through Dec. 8.