Bargain Hunting: The Cyber Monday Effect

Bargain Hunting:

The Cyber Monday Effect

In a consumer culture that has dominated the entire millennium, buying at the holidays has become more important than the calendar holidays themselves, and none more so than the ever growing monster that is the weekend after Thanksgiving.

The term “Black Friday” was coined in the 1960’s by Philadelphia police officers for the day after Thanksgiving when there would be a rush to the big department stores after the country’s most gluttonous day for filled bags, rather than stomachs. Traffic jams and stewarding headaches became synonymous with the day for the police, but for the stores it was a matter of only one thing – profit.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have now overtaken Christmas Eve on the spending spectrum, with the invented holidays firmly grounded in the stratosphere of bargain, attracting the masses who simply cannot miss out on the price cuts, deals and gift cards offer on the day. In 2015, the final estimate for in-store sales on Black Friday was in the region of $10.4 billion, and while it may have been down 10 percent from the previous year, that doesn’t necessarily mean the overall spending was down.

After its introduction ten years ago, Cyber Monday’s popularity has grown substantially, and this year is set to be its biggest yet. The often videoed mania of Black Friday has detracted those slow, peaceful shoppers from physically pounding the pavement on the crazy day, instead relaxing in the confines of their home — cozy over laptops — to execute their more efficient and infinitely less stressful holiday shopping.

To combat the fear of sites crashing and blogging hysteria, many retailers who engage in online sales have already begun ‘advance sales’ and the holiday is now becoming a week-long event.

Indeed, many retailers who participated in online sales last year found their online profit exceeded expectations, and in some cases, even exceeded in-store sales.

This year sees Apple return to festive bargaining. Having skipped last year’s event (allowing resellers do much of their work for them), they return this year with an ambiguous promise of a ‘one-day shopping event’. Given how well their products performed at resale last year, projectionists admit that even with their participation on the day, their sales cannot hope to mimic those of Target and co. for iPad and Apple watch sales. So why return?

Apple is following the trend that began the bargaining nature of the holiday in the first place. With people saving in the summer months or spending in areas of recreation or holidaying, i.e. away from retailers, and spending slowing in the fall because of increased schooling expenditure, retailers are almost desperate by Thanksgiving for profit that invariably anything will be done to attract the masses. The iPhone 7’s middling start could well have been one of the main components in Apple’s decision to return to bargain busting.

Overall, this year is set up to be an interesting one spending wise. While economic growth has been on the rise the entire year and forecasts on the East coast protecting it be a cold but relatively calm day, could our friend the Internet be the major upset in in-store sales? As confidence grows in online shopping, could the tech-savvy exceed the hassle of in-store spending in the coming years? And if so – Black Friday as was originally known for the black thicket of crowds, could soon become an obsolete term.

Here are 10 things you may not know about these two wallet-busting days…

1. Thanksgiving day shoppers increased by a whopping 10 million last year from 2014 leading those who are normally closed on the day to re-evaluate their stance on holiday closures this year.

2. The recession in 2008 caused a very clear shift in the number of people seeking bargains and deals. Previous to this, there was more emphasis on the day on spending rather than saving.

3. Last year Target shattered its online sales but customers were kept on the site for up to 40 minutes trying to check out! This year they’re applying the same discounts in store to combat and have updated their sites capabilities to deal with the inevitable buyers.

4. Almost 50 percent of all cyber Monday buys were made from mobile phones.

5. 75 percent of those mobile spends were made on iOS devices.

6. Sales on Cyber Monday between 2012 and 2015 jumped $1 billion with the trend expected to double this year.

7. 2015 marked the fourth year of Walmart workers’ protests on Black Friday, protesting an $8.40 minimum wage while company shareholders are collectively worth $145 billion.

8. Roughly 10 percent of shoppers on cyber Monday will find their item has sold out by the time they’ve arrived at check out.

9. A Black Friday stampede in 2008 caused the death of a Walmart employee, highlighting the mania surrounding the holiday and the avaricious nature of bargain hunters.

10. Less than 20 percent of bargain hunters look to shop on Thanksgiving day questioning the purpose of opening on such a day and depriving workers of the holiday.

Amy Corcoran

Head of Content at SWAAY: Amy is an Irish writer, avid foodie and feminist with an insatiable appetite for novels and empowering women's writing. She has enjoyed calling Dublin, Paris and now New York her home.

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