Cyber Monday: Behind the Numbers


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The Nov-Dec period each year is not only an important time for Americans because of two main holidays — Thanksgiving and Christmas, plus an assortment of unofficial holidays from various cultures — it’s also an important time for retailers. In fact, it’s become something of a tradition to shop for bargains on the day after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday, to get a start on Christmas shopping.

Unfortunately Black Fridays of recent past have resulted in out of control crowds and even deaths. There’s also Thanksgiving Weekend as popular shopping days, but those can be hectic as well, if you can even find parking. Fortunately, in the last few years, there’s Cyber Monday and a whole lot of shopping going on — online, that is.

Cyber Monday, which falls on the first Monday after Thanksgiving, is the online sibling event to Black Friday. Forget the crowds; there’s often free shipping, and you can buy pretty much everything you need online. If you know what you want, Cyber Monday may be the way to shop, which saves you more time to enjoy Thanksgiving Day and the rest of week/ weekend with friends and family.

Online Shopping: The Numbers

The following figures show total online retail shopping sales totals for Americans in the years 2007-2012. (These numbers refer to purchases made on retail shopping websites.)

  • 2012 — $186.15 Billion
  • 2011 — $161.51 Billion
  • 2010 — $142.49 Billion
  • 2009 — $129.80 Billion
  • 2008 — $131.10 Billion
  • 2007 — $122.72 Billion

Cyber Monday: The Numbers

A significant portion of the yearly online sales totals, above, are produced during the approximately 60-day period of Nov-Dec, with online sales from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday often being indicators of how well retailers will do in Dec. Here are some general facts and figures surrounding Cyber Monday, as well a few other general facts for comparison. The numbers below include a mix of figures for both online sales for retail websites, as well as overall online sales. Assume “retail” sales unless otherwise indicated.

  • 2005 — The year the term “Cyber Monday” was conceived by, a division of NRF (National Retail Foundation).
  • 6 — The number in millions of search results on Google for the term “Cyber Monday” by late 2005, just weeks after the term was coined by / NRF (National Retail Foundation).
  • 27.7 — The number in millions of Americans who shopped online on Cyber Monday 2005.
  • 2007 — The year Cyber Monday shopping cracks the top ten ranks (#9) for highest-grossing online shopping days.
  • 2008 — Cyber Monday reaches #3 in the ranks for highest-grossing online shopping days, possibly influenced by the 2008 financial crisis.
  • 2010 — The year that Cyber Monday retail website sales surpassed a billion dollars. This is the same year that Cyber Monday first ranked as the top online shopping day. Before that, the top online shopping days (sales) have typically been around early- to mid-December (e.g., Green Monday, Green Tuesday, Free Shipping Monday).
  • 202 — The percentage increase in sales between the first Cyber Monday in 2005 and Cyber Monday 2012. E.g., the sales total for 2012 are 3.02 times the 2005 total.
  • 101 — The number of American websites blocked by U.S. law enforcement (by domain seizure) from selling counterfeit products ahead of Cyber Monday 2012.
  • 47.2 — The % of Cyber Monday 2012 shopping done from home (4% increase from 2011).
  • 47.1 — The % of Cyber Monday 2012 shopping done from work (3.1% decrease from 2011, which is possibly due to increased personal mobile devices).
  • 18 — The % online shoppers on Cyber Monday 2012 that used a mobile device to make purchases.
  • 70 — The % increase in mobile usage on Cyber Monday 2012 compared to 2011.
  • 100 — The % increase in mobile-based Cyber Monday sales in 2012 compared to 2011.
  • 13 — The % of sales on Cyber Monday 2012 attributed to purchases from mobile devices.
  • 10 — The number in billions of dollars that Americans spent online via mobile devices (smartphones, tablets and other connected devices) in 2012 overall (retail and non-retail websites).
  • 90 — The minimum percentage of mobile traffic attributed to Apple’s iPad tablet device.
  • 190 — The % increase in global mobile payment volume that PayPal saw on Cyber Monday 2012, compared to 2011.
  • 166 — The % increase in mobile shopping customers that PayPal saw on Cyber Monday 2012, compared to 2011.
  • 8.34 — Average number of items per order (online retailsites) on Cyber Monday 2012 (14.09% increase over 2011).
  • 185.12 — Average order value in dollars (online retail sites) on Cyber Monday 2012 (6.63% decrease over 2011)
  • 96 — The % of consumers surveyed in mid-Nov 2012 who indicated that free shipping was a motivating factor for shopping on Cyber Monday.
  • 42 — The % difference on transaction totals with free shipping than on paid-shipping transactions. For example, if the average transaction total for orders with paid shipping were $100, then free-shipping transactions would total $142, on average.
  • 26.5 — The number in millions of items purchased from Amazon on Cyber Monday 2012 — almost double Amazon’s 2010 numbers.
  • 306 — The highest number of items / second sold by Amazon on Cyber Monday 2012.
  • 10 — The number in millions of subscribers of Amazon Prime, estimated in early Mar 2013. Prime costs $79/year and offers unlimited 2-day free shipping.
  • 2 — The number of years it took Amazon to double their Prime subscribers to 10M.
  • 61.09 — The number in billions of dollars of of revenue Amazon generated in 2012.
  • 80 — The number of fulfillment centers that Amazon has around the world.
  • 83 — The % of American shoppers who are satisfied with their online shopping experience, according to a Sep 2013 survey by comScore.

Cyber Monday by the Years

Here is a yearly breakdown of Cyber Monday figures, starting with total sales figures, along with some related facts.

2005-2012 Cyber Monday Sales

The following figures refer to the number in millions of dollars of online sales for retail websites.

  • 1,465 — Cyber Monday 2012.
  • 1,251 — Cyber Monday 2011.
  • 1,028 — Cyber Monday 2010.
  • 887 — Cyber Monday 2009.
  • 846 — Cyber Monday 2008.
  • 733 — Cyber Monday 2007.
  • 608 — Cyber Monday 2006.
  • 484 — Cyber Monday 2005.

Yearly Percentage Increases

The following numbers show the percentage gain year-to-year in Cyber Monday sales.

  • 17.11 — 2011 to 2012.
  • 21.69 — 2010 to 2011.
  • 15.90 — 2009 to 2010.
  • 4.85 — 2008 to 2009.
  • 15.42 — 2007 to 2008.
  • 20.56 — 2006 to 2007.
  • 20.62 — 2005 to 2006.

Cyber Monday Ranking for 2005-2012

Here is how Cyber Monday has ranked in terms of highest-grossing online shopping days for the years 2005-2012.

  • 2012 — #1
  • 2011 — #1
  • 2010 — #1
  • 2009 — #2
  • 2008 — #3
  • 2007 — #9
  • 2006 — #12
  • 2005 — #8

Top Most-Visited Websites on Cyber Monday 2012

The figures below refer to top web sites by visits, not sales.

  • 35M visits — Amazon (36% increase over 2011).
  • 18.6M visits — Wal-Mart (21% increase over 2011).
  • 9.3M visits — Best Buy (10% increase over 2011).
  • 8.7M visits — Target (4% decrease over 2011).
  • 5.3M visits — J.C. Penney (1% decrease over 2011).

The most-frequently searched for retailers on Cyber Monday 2012 were Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Amazon, Sears and Target.

The Internet Tax

Factors that might affect Amazon’s sales and visitor dominance on Cyber Monday 2013 include the new online retail tax that went into effect in some states in 2012. The U.S. has no federal sales tax, but the Internet tax is to be collected by websites on the basis of the buyer’s location — but only in states where a retailer has a physical presence. Amazon has been exempted by some states for a period of years, but some exemptions are running out. Other states have decided that Amazon should still collect and submit tax even if they don’t have a physical presence. Massachusetts, Connecticut and Wisconsin are at least three more states for which Amazon will be collecting taxes from online buyers — making for 16 in total for 2013.

Top 5 Purchase Categories — November 2012

Here are the top five purchase categories for all of Nov 1-30, 2012. Percentage increase is relative to 2011.

  • #1 — 25% increase in Digital Content and Subscriptions.
  • #2 — 21% increase in Toys & Hobbies.
  • #3 — 18% increase in Consumer Packaged Goods.
  • #4 — 17% increase in Consumer Electronics.
  • #5 — 16% increase in Video Game Consoles & Accessories.

12 Cyber Monday Dos and Don’ts

Here are some dos and don’ts for shopping online on Cyber Monday.

  1. Do use coupons. Search official retail websites beforehand for Cyber Monday coupons. If you use a search engine, don’t search for “leaked cyber monday ads” and then click randomly at search results. The pages you end up on could be scam sites or worse. Try to use sites you’re familiar with or that a friend has used before. Some couponing apps for mobile devices may provide alerts for Cyber Monday deals.
  2. Don’t visit links you see on Facebook just because a friend shared the link. Check with them first to ask if they’ve used the linked-to merchant.
  3. Watch out for sites selling counterfeit merchandise. In 2012, law enforcement agencies blocked over 100 U.S. sites by seizing the domains ahead of Cyber Monday.
  4. Do check social media. A lot of deals are promoted on Twitter and, to a lesser degree, Facebook (although Facebook is predicted by some experts to take top position in 2013 in terms of Cyber Monday-related activity.
  5. Do check for trending topics (Twitter), search for relevant hashtags (Twitter, Facebook)), check what friends are posting — including legitimate links for digital coupons and contests. Pinterest postings might give you gift ideas.
  6. Do read reviews of products before shopping — especially for high-ticket items. Be prepared; just because something is on sale doesn’t mean it’s what you want to spend your money on. Knowing whom you’re buying a gift for and why will help you filter your shopping list.
  7. Do install suitable shopping apps, if you have a mobile device. If you don’t know where to start, ask a tech-savvy friend for recommendations. Types of apps include official apps from a specific retailer, deal trackers, coupon apps, and specifically Cyber Monday apps.
  8. Do not fill out personal info on a site without verifying that your web browser window or tab is in “secure mode”. You should at least see an “https://…” in the address bar, and a padlock icon in the status bar at the bottom. Positioning may vary by browser. If you don’t see the “https://” string (not “http://”) before the URL, don’t use that page. If you’re confused, invite a tech-savvy friend over for some turkey and ask them for a quick in-person tutorial.
  9. Do look carefully at your browser’s address bar – especially if you followed a link from a social network or an unexpected “bargain email”. Sometimes fake web pages resemble that of big retail sites, and the URL might be intentionally confusing in order to trick you.
  10. Do BYOD – Bring Your Own Device. The likelihood that you’ll be at work while doing Cyber Monday shopping is high if you have a job, unless you shop in the early morning or after work. Best you take your own mobile device with you to shop on. Some companies frown on personal use of company computers.
  11. Do use a tablet instead of a phone, if you can. Your shopping experience on a tablet will likely be more enjoyable than on a smartphone.
  12. Don’t use random wi-fi networks. This holds true at all times, not just for Cyber Monday. Before you do any sort of financial transaction on a computer, laptop or mobile device for which you are not using cellular service, check that your device’s active network is reliable. Some retailers offer wi-fi, and their network name should be a match. If you’re unsure, don’t use a network.


Information for this article was collected from the following pages and web sites:


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