Cyber Monday shopping growing in popularity

Posted Dec. 01, 2008, at 8:31 p.m.

When Nory Jones couldn’t find the comforter she wanted on Black Friday, the University of Maine associate professor of management information looked to her calendar for help: She shopped on Cyber Monday.

“Today I went online, went into overstock.com, and it was so easy to find one,” she said Monday afternoon of her sought-after comforter. “With free shipping, too.”

Jones is one of a growing number of shoppers taking advantage of online sales and promotions such as free shipping offered the Monday after Thanksgiving, or Cyber Monday.

Marketing surveys estimated that 84.6 million shoppers would buy online Monday from home or the office — up from 72 million last year and 60 million in 2006, according to Jones. More than 80 percent of retailers were planning to have special Cyber Monday promotions.

“The trend is that it’s growing and growing and growing and growing,” Jones said. “When you consider the economy, and retailers being so worried, that’s phenomenal growth.”

One prominent Maine company that didn’t make any special push on Cyber Monday is L.L. Bean.

The Freeport retail giant’s Web site offers other holiday promotions — and did notice an uptick in sales Monday, according to spokeswoman Carolyn Beem.

“We do generally anticipate that the second Monday is busier than the first. We see this as a good warm-up test run,” she said.

Beem said her theory of shopper psychology is that people tend to spend the weekend after Thanksgiving with their families, shopping or not — and then go to catalogs or online for a more stress-free retail experience.

Jones agreed that the comfort factor of shopping from home or the office at any time might contribute to Cyber Monday’s growing popularity. Another reason is that shoppers are increasingly at ease with making purchases online.

“There’s been great advances in online security,” Jones said. “Any reputable online retailer, they take extraordinary security precautions.”

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