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The convenience of online shopping has made Cyber Monday one of the biggest holiday shopping days. (Bigstock Photo)
The convenience of online shopping has made Cyber Monday one of the biggest holiday shopping days. (Bigstock Photo)

Cyber Monday is the new black … Friday.

An increasing emphasis on online, mobile and now even voice shopping, spearheaded by Amazon and other online retailers, has led to digital commerce beginning to overtake the in-store scramble that has characterized Black Friday for so long. In addition, retailers have started offering big sales earlier in the season, lengthening the holiday shopping window by several weeks.

To that end, the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics found in a survey that close to 56 percent of people have already begun their shopping. Amazon kicked off the holiday shopping season Nov. 1, offering close to two months of holiday deals. Creating — or in this case extending — shopping holidays is nothing new for Amazon, as its summer shopping holiday Prime Day has helped juice sales in a traditionally slow period.

Walmart, quickly becoming Amazon’s fiercest rival in the shopping world, is starting Cyber Monday deals on Black Friday. Though wouldn’t that just make them Black Friday deals?

This year, Black Friday is expected to be only the 13th biggest shopping day of the holiday season in terms of total volume, down from third in 2014 and fourth in 2015, according to research from Visa.

Online shopping is overtaking the brick-and-mortar experience. (Bigstock Photo)
Online shopping is overtaking the brick-and-mortar experience. (Bigstock Photo)

The biggest trend that has eroded Black Friday’s influence is online shopping. Visa reports that online spending is expected to increase 18 percent this year, after rising 16 percent last year. And 47 percent of shoppers surveyed by Visa said they planned to do more than half of their shopping online this year.

Research firm Statista reports that online shopping has exploded in recent years. Going back to 2008, online Cyber Monday sales were $355 million, and this year they are expected to come in at $2.28 billion. Black Friday has adopted to the online spending trend as well, with online shoppers expected to spend $1.66 billion on Black Friday.

It makes sense, as the convenience of shopping at home in pajamas is a big upgrade over standing in lines waiting for stores to open the day after Thanksgiving, or even on Turkey Day itself. As online shopping has become the preferred medium of choice, the deals are catching up as well.

“The clear winners will likely be the major dot com destinations, including select store and leading brand web sites,” said Steven Barr, PwC’s U.S. retail & consumer leader. “The challenge for store-based retailers will likely be to leverage their distinctive advantages to stay relevant. Small, independent retailers and local artisans are expected to compete for consumers by offering personal service as well as unique and hand-made gifts.”

Amazon remains the clear leader in online retail, according to a new chart from Verto Analytics. Amazon gets the most monthly unique visitors by far, and more the second third most popular online retailers, Walmart and eBay. Customers also visit Amazon more often each month than other online retailers and it has more smartphone users.

Chart Via Verto Analytics
Chart Via Verto Analytics

PwC predicts that overall holiday spending is expected to rise to its highest level since the Great Recession, up 10 percent over last year.

Overall, 59 percent of people in the U.S. – or approximately 137.4 million people – plan to or are considering shopping during Thanksgiving weekend, and that doesn’t even take into account Cyber Monday, according to another NRF survey. It finds that Black Friday is still the top dog by one metric, with 74 percent of respondents planning to shop the day after Thanksgiving. NRF doesn’t expect as big of a spike in holiday spending this year as PwC, about 3.6 percent for a total of $655.8 billion.

“Black Friday remains one of the busiest shopping days of the year, with Americans planning to take advantage of aggressive in-store and digital promotions over the entire holiday weekend,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers know consumers are spreading out their holiday budgets to shop throughout the season. While there’s no doubt of the incredible promotions offered during the weekend, the holiday shopping season is long and consumers will look for and expect great deals down to the very last minute.”

And now for a tradition that is quickly becoming as popular as Black Friday and Cyber Monday: gossiping about Millennials. According to NRF, Black Friday is extremely popular with this generation, with 86 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds and 78 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds partaking in online or in-store shopping. Not only do they love shopping online, they also are the most likely to shop on mobile devices. Visa finds that about 22 percent of millennials will use mobile devices for shopping compared to 18 percent of Gen ‘Xers and 9 percent of Baby Boomers.

Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest popular group, and they prefer a different type of gift than previous generations. Millennials, PwC reports, are much more likely to prefer an experience, such as a travel, over an item, for a holiday gift.

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