RPT-Online bargain-hunting spreads beyond Cyber Monday

(Repeats Nov. 27 story for wider readership)

* Cyber Monday still a focus but other days seek limelight

* Many retailers offering Cyber Sunday deals and beyond

By Alexandria Sage

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 27 (BestGrowthStock) – Early discounts may have
taken some of the shine off Cyber Monday but the key online
holiday shopping day is still expected to attract bargain
hunters who may not have had their fill over the weekend.

Cyber Monday — a term coined five years ago for the day
many people return to work after Thanksgiving and make online
gift purchases on their computers — remains a prime shopping
day online. But its novelty has now been partially eclipsed by
e-commerce promotions earlier in the season, including on
Thanksgiving itself.

Retailers from BestBuy.com (BBY.N: ) to Walmart.com (WMT.N: )
and Staples.com (SPLS.O: ) have even opted to offer Cyber Monday
deals one day early, on newly coined “Cyber Sunday.”

The key is versatility, online experts say, as well as
making sure shoppers heading to the Web always find something
to inspire them to click on a sale.

John Thompson, senior vice president and general manager of
BestBuy.com, said Cyber Monday remains a “really viable
marketing concept,” but smart retailers must offer choice.

“There’s demand out there, but you have consumers spending
their time differently,” he said. “If you don’t have one group
that shops early, you’ll have those who say ‘I’ll enjoy my
Thanksgiving and those same deals or as-good deals will be
there Cyber Monday.'”

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For a graphic on brick-and-mortar Black Friday traffic and

holiday sales: http:/r.reuters.com/dyk66q

For other holiday retail stories [ID:nUSHOLIDAY]

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Marketing firms say tactics have changed in luring
consumers to buy online. Whereas in prior years a full email
inbox of online deals awaited those back at work on Monday, the
offers now increasingly come on Black Friday if not before.

Disneystore.com (DIS.N: ), for one, had a “record sales day”
on Thanksgiving, according to Jim Fielding, president of Disney
Stores.

U.S. online sales were up 33 percent on Thanksgiving this
year, according to web analytics firm IBM Coremetrics.

Just as many promotions are sent via email on Black Friday,
the day after Thanksgiving, as on Cyber Monday, according to
Responsys. And half of retailers planned to send email on Cyber
Sunday as well as on Thanksgiving, the interactive marketing
firm found.

PayPal, the online payments unit of eBay (EBAY.O: ), said its
first holiday spike in payment volume came on November 15. On
Black Friday, total payment volume, or the total value of goods
sold, rose 27 percent versus last year.

Online deals will continue throughout the holiday season.
Amazon.com (AMZN.O: ), the largest online retailer, said its
Black Friday deals would last all week, while Target.com
(TGT.N: ) and eBay have set up daily deals through December.

BEST DEAL?

Despite the e-commerce selling season that now extends
before and after Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving is
still a prime focus of retailers.

Nine out of ten retailers planned to offer a promotion for
Cyber Monday, Shop.org and BIGresearch found in a survey. That
was more than the nearly three-quarters of respondents in 2007.

“Retailers have built it into the consumers mind: ‘Here’s
the day you’ll get the best deal,'” said IBM Coremetrics’ Chief
Strategy Officer John Squire.

Although some experts say the top online sales comes later
in the season — analytics firm Comscore, for one, found 2009’s
heaviest spending day fell on Dec 13 — Squire said Cyber
Monday was the best-performing day, with a 30 percent jump in
U.S. online sales.

“You will see a similar type of gain on Cyber Monday (this
year),” said Squire. “The big treat is what happens on Cyber
Sunday for those retailers who give those deals.”

Bullishness in advance of Monday was evident as Amazon
shares closed at an all-time high last Wednesday leading into
the Thanksgiving weekend, accompanied by options trading at
over twice the average daily level.

On Tuesday, comScore raised its forecast for U.S. online
holiday spending for the second time, saying it now expects an
11 percent rise over the 2009 holiday. [ID:nN ]

The new spending outlook should bring total holiday
e-commerce spending to $32.4 billion, comScore said.

Online sales, while still growing, make up a mere 7 percent
of the overall U.S. retail pie, according to comScore.
(Reporting by Alexandria Sage; editing by Todd Eastham)

RPT-Online bargain-hunting spreads beyond Cyber Monday