'Cyber Monday' traffic surges 8% this year

By Ylan Q. Mui
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Traffic at online retailers rose 8 percent on Monday, the last gasp of the post-Thanksgiving shopping bonanza, according to an industry organization.

The National Retail Federation had forecast that nearly 100 million people would shop online for what has become known as Cyber Monday. The trade association announced Tuesday that the increase in traffic was particularly strong from 5 p.m. to midnight, surging 19 percent in that period.

About 700 retail sites offered special promotions on Cyber Monday, and many of the deals continue through the week. The association coined the catchphrase four years ago to describe the jump in sales that online retailers enjoyed as shoppers took advantage of high-speed Internet connections at their offices when they returned to work from the Thanksgiving holiday. But as residential Internet speeds have improved in recent years, more shoppers have begun clicking away at home.

"This was the largest -- and most important -- Cyber Monday yet," said Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org, a trade group for online retailers.

Buy.com reported that Monday was the biggest sales day in the company's history. Mercent, which handles marketing for many large online retailers, estimated that Amazon.com's sales jumped 47 percent, while total online sales grew 33 percent.

Coremetrics, a retail analytics company, said shoppers spent an average of $180.03 per online order, compared with $170.19 last year, and bought nearly 10 percent more items per order.

"We are seeing good online buying momentum because people are looking for the very best deals," said John Squire, chief strategy officer of Coremetrics.

Market research firm ComScore estimates that online retail sales will grow 3 percent to $28.8 billion this holiday season. Though Cyber Monday is the first big online sales day of the holiday shopping season, it typically is not the busiest. That day will probably come in mid-December, when many free-shipping promotions end, retail experts said.

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