As an inveterate procrastinator and hater of crowds, I’ve always avoided Black Friday, except as a business angle for retail clients. And Cyber Monday, despite a similar usefulness, seemed a little like Grandparents Day…you know, an attempt by marketers to create a commercial holiday that never really, um, clicks. Maybe it’s the “cyber” label, which hasn’t been in the vernacular since the nineties. As a PR professional, I take it seriously, but as a consumer, not so much.
Things are different this year. For one, Black Friday’s morphed into a “cyber”-social occasion, with shoppers tweeting, posting, and blogging about the “doorbuster” deals they’ve found by scouring the Web. As Reuters reports, major retailers took advantage of the sharing to get more involved in social networking than in any previous year or season. Crowdsourcing deals is really hot.
And, surprisingly, so is Cyber Monday. When the National Retail Federation coined the term in 2005, it conjured images of frantic shoppers rushing to the desktops to power through their holiday lists. Yet, online sales that day were easily beaten by those later in December. Even last year, December 9 was the biggest online shopping day, racking up $887 million in sales. Cyber Monday’s, by contrast, were only $846 million, making it seem more virtual than real.
Not any more, apparently. What started as a marketing gimmick is turning into retail reality. Some 87 percent of online retailers are offering special promotions this Monday, according to the NRF. And as a recent New York Times piece suggests, it seems to be influencing shoppers. Shop.org‘s annual Cyber Monday promotion drew only about 32 percent of its member retailers four years ago, but this year’s participation will reach nearly 75 percent. Hopefully, the shopping snowball effect will keep on rolling.
It’s all an attempt to get deal-hungry shoppers, and procrastinators like me, to get an earlier start to the holiday buying season. Yet, the shopping “holidays” might have a snowball effect of their own. I just heard about a new one being pushed by a mobile firm. Mobile Tuesday will feature coupons from various retailers, including MacDonald’s, Finish Line, and RedTag, delivered to participants via cell phone.
But, here’s the problem. We shopping slackers like to push the limits of what’s possible. At this rate, I’ll be holding out for yet another faux holiday. I’m thinking some kind of “midnight madness” sale on December 23, the ultimate deadline for holiday gift deliveries. Last-Chance Wednesday, anyone? Keep an eye out, and let me know.