U.S. online sales gained momentum on Cyber Monday and are set to surpass initial expectations by hitting a record $3.39 billion as consumers snapped up deals on the busiest day of the year for internet shopping. The revised outlook dismissed fears that a strong jump in web sales during the Thanksgiving weekend would hurt Cyber Monday. It also underscored the broader shift to shopping online, which is making up for slower spending in stores.
Sales on Cyber Monday were expected to finish up 10.2 percent from a year ago at $3.39 billion, compared with an earlier estimate of $3.36 billion, according to Adobe Digital Insights. As of 12 p.m. EST on Monday - the latest figures available - sales totaled $1.19 billion. Adobe will release final figures on Tuesday.
The rate of growth on Cyber Monday, however, was slower than Black Friday and Thanksgiving, when sales grew 21.6 percent and 11.5 percent respectively. This was mainly due to a lower sales base a year ago for those two days, Adobe said.
Adobe collects the data by measuring 80 percent of all online transactions from the top 100 U.S. retailers. Of every $10 spent at the top 500 U.S. retailers, $7.50 goes through the Adobe Marketing Cloud sales platform. Amazon.com Inc said it is on pace to have its "best Cyber Monday in history," and said orders placed on its mobile app are higher than last year. Wal-Mart Stores Inc said purchases made on the Wal-Mart app jumped 150 percent this year.
E-commerce retailer Jet.com, recently bought by Wal-Mart for over $3 billion, attributed the rise in online sales over the past five days to a return to buying after the distraction of the Nov. 8 presidential election. "The U.S. election dominated the news cycle and the time people spent online and a lot of what we are seeing online is a condensing of that demand into a shorter time period," said Liza Landsman, chief marketing officer at Jet.com.
Even with free shipping and site-wide promotions, the number of deals on Cyber Monday was lower than on Black Friday, according to data from e-commerce analytics firm Clavis Insight. On average, brick-and-mortar retailers cut the number of deals by as much as 4 percent, the data showed. Target Corp trimmed product offers by 10 percent on Cyber Monday. Wal-Mart kept the number of online deals similar to the past four days while Amazon.com was offering four times as many deals as Wal-Mart.
Winners so far
However, a belief that deals will always be available, strengthened by earlier promotions, took a toll on consumer spending, which fell 3.5 percent over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. The NRF stuck to its forecast for total retail sales to rise 3.6 percent this holiday season, on the back of strong jobs and wage growth.
Winners for the Thanksgiving weekend so far include Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and Amazon.com as shoppers splurged on electronics such as ultra-HD TVs and gaming consoles including Sony's PlayStation 4, analysts said.
Traffic trends were healthy at footwear maker UGG, owned by Decker's Outdoor Corp, and Gap Inc, the biggest surprises, Jefferies & Co analysts said in a client note. J.C. Penney Co Inc and Macy's Inc were among department stores that had more promotions this year, Deutsche Bank analysts said. Apart from electronics, beauty products overall sold well over the holiday weekend, analysts said, even as handbag sales were muted.