As U.S. consumers have increasingly brought broadband access into their homes, so-called Cyber Monday has evolved into Cyber Weekend, according to a new survey by consulting firm Deloitte.
Coined by the National Retail Federation in 2005, the term Cyber Monday refers to a spike in online retails sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving as people get back to work.
It is believed the spike has been due to people taking advantage of their employers’ faster Internet access.
However, if Deloitte’s survey is accurate, a larger percentage of consumers than ever will have done much of their online shopping by now.
Thirty six percent of those surveyed last week said they planned to shop online for gifts over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, according to Deloitte. Of those, 72% said they would do so on Friday and 60% said they would do so on Saturday, according to Deloitte.
Meanwhile, 30% said they planned to shop online on Monday, up from 19% who said they planned to do so in 2006, according to Deloitte.
Stacy Janiak, vice chairman and U.S. retail leader at Deloitte, said she believes the heavy weekend online shopping is at least partially due to more broadband access in U.S. homes.
“Also, some employers began limiting access to certain sites once they saw how much time people were spending online,” she said.
According to a report published by the Pew Internet and American Life Project in July of this year, 55% of American adults had broadband access at home, a 17% increase from 47% in March of 2007, which was a 12% boost from 42% in March of 2006.
Just 10% of Americans had dial-up Internet accounts when the study was done, according to the Pew Internet Project.
However, though online weekend shopping may be growing, overall online shopping will be stagnant this year, according to online audience measurement firm comScore.
The firm last week predicted U.S. consumers will spend $29.2 billion online in the November/December shopping season, the same figure comScore estimates was spent online during the holidays in 2007.
The number is a big letdown from last year’s online-holiday-shopping-growth rate of 19%, according to comScore.
And in more gloomy news, online shopping for the first 23 days of November was $8.2 billion, a 4% decline from the same period last year, according to comScore.
“Despite the recent reprieve that plummeting gas prices have given American consumers, the depressed and volatile stock market, declining housing prices, inflation and the weak job market all represent dark clouds hanging over their heads this holiday shopping season,” said comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni, in a statement. “With consumer confidence low and disposable income tight, the first weeks of November have been very disappointing, with online retail spending declining versus year ago. It’s also likely that some budget-conscious consumers are planning to wait to buy until later in the season to take advantage of retailers’ even more aggressive discounting.”
The U.S. Commerce Department reported last week that consumer spending overall had dropped 1% in October, the biggest drop since just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Consumer spending accounts for two thirds of the U.S. economy.
Meanwhile, in other findings from Deloitte, America’s slumping economy is apparently also hurting gift cards, as 23% of those surveyed said they plan to buy fewer of them this year.
Holiday shoppers are also “playing chicken” with retailers this year, according to Deloitte, with 62% saying the gifts they have purchased so far have almost all been on sale.
Also, 45% said they planned to shop later in the season to get better deals, according to Deloitte.
Many believe Black Friday is the biggest offline-shopping day of the year. However, though it is one of the busiest days, the term actually refers to conventional wisdom that says the Friday after Thanksgiving is the day when retailers’ books go from in the red to black for the year.