Cyber Monday spending starts strong, on the way to biggest online sales day ever


At Amazon’s corporate headquarters in Seattle, where workers are busy managing the biggest e-commerce site in the world on the busiest online shopping day of the year.

James Martin/CNET

Cyber Monday is on track to become the biggest online sales day ever in the US yet again, helped in part by Mother Nature.

Adobe on Monday morning said US sales have already hit $473 million and are expected to reach $9.4 billion by the end of the day. That would be an 18.9% increase from last Cyber Monday, which is currently the biggest online sales day in US history. Salesforce expects Monday’s global digital sales to reach a healthy $30 billion, up 12%. 

Purchasing will peak in the evening, with shoppers spending an average of $11 million a minute from 8 to 9 p.m. PT, Adobe said. The software giant expects online merchants to get a boost from the weather, too, as heavy rains and snow hit large swaths of the country over the weekend and on Monday, causing more people to stay home.

“We’re seeing a very strong digital holiday thus far. It was in large part because of the demand retailers were trying to drum up since early November,” said Rob Garf, Salesforce vice president of retail strategy and insights. That early work was necessary because there are six fewer days between Cyber Monday and Christmas than last year. 

These early Cyber Monday figures point to a positive holiday sales season for retail and highlight the years-long trend of consumers moving more of their shopping online and away from physical stores. Those stores should still take up the lion’s share of total holiday sales, but this online shift is expected to be a big benefit especially for Amazon, by far the biggest online seller in the country.

But, as has become a common practice for Amazon’s biggest sales days, protesters marched in Manhattan against the company this afternoon. They want to highlight on-the-job injuries at Amazon warehouses and the company’s work with immigration authorities and hundreds of local police departments. This protest follows a similar demonstration outside Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse last week.

Adobe reaffirmed its expectation that total holiday sales for US e-commerce in November and December will hit $143.7 billion, up 14.1% from last year. That figure was helped along by robust sales so far on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, with consumers spending more using their phones and choosing the option to buy online then pickup in store.

Garf said retailers this year are also finding more ways to entice customers than just offering discounts, which has forced a race to the bottom for years. He said merchants are now rolling out flash sales, celebrity tie-ins and limited-edition products to try getting folks to buy.

Comparatively, the National Retail Federation has expected overall holiday spending in the US, which includes both online and stores, to grow between 3.8% and 4.2%, to a total of between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion.

For later in the season, when shipping cutoff times become a bigger factor, Garf said physical stores will get a lot more attention from customers, as they take advantage of picking up their items in stores right up until Christmas Day.

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