Wal-Mart kicks off Cy­ber Mon­day on Fri­day

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Anne D’Innocenzio AP Re­tail Writer

NEW YORK >> Cy­ber Mon­day is start­ing ear­lier and ear­lier.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Mon­day that it’s kick­ing off its so­called “Cy­ber Mon­day” deals at 12:01 a.m. EST Fri­day for the first time ever as it aims to grab cus­tomers ahead of its com­peti­tors.

Last year, the world’s largest re­tailer pulled up the “Cy­ber Mon­day” deals to the Sun­day evening af­ter Thanks­giv­ing for the first time.

Cy­ber Mon­day, which falls on the Mon­day af­ter Thanks­giv­ing, is typ­i­cally the busiest day of the year for on­line shop­ping. The phrase was coined in 2005 by the Na­tional Re­tail Fed­er­a­tion’s on­line arm, Shop.org, to en­cour­age on­line buy­ing when peo­ple re­turned to of­fices where they had high-speed In­ter­net con­nec­tions. Since then, the pro­lif­er­a­tion of smart phones has given shop­pers con­stant Web ac­cess and now Cy­ber Mon­day is be­ing used by re­tail­ers to pull in shop­pers hun­gry for deals con­tin­u­ally.

The push to start Cy­ber Mon­day deals ear­lier fol­lows what’s been hap­pen­ing with Black Fri­day, the day af­ter Thanks­giv­ing, which used to of­fi­cially kick off the hol­i­day shop­ping sea­son in stores. Over the past few years, re­tail­ers such as Wal-Mart, Macy’s and Tar­get have started the deals ear­lier into Thanks­giv­ing. And they’re now of­fer­ing many of the same deals on­line as they do

in stores on Thanks­giv­ing.

This year, Wal-Mart, based in Ben­tonville, Arkansas, is mak­ing Thanks­giv­ing deals avail­able on­line at 12:01 a.m. EST on the hol­i­day, three hours ear­lier than last year. Wal­Mart is start­ing its deals at its stores at 6 p.m. on the turkey feast, the same time as last year.

Ravi Jari­wala, a Wal­Mart spokesman, told The As­so­ci­ated Press that three out of the four cus­tomers it polled said that they wanted to shop Cy­ber Mon­day deals ear­lier — af­ter the kick­off in stores.

The move comes as Wal­Mart aims to com­pete more ag­gres­sively with on­line leader Ama­zon.com. Wal-Mart re­ported last week that its on­line sales growth ac­cel­er­ated to 20.6 per­cent in the third quar­ter from its 11.8 per­cent pace in the prior quar­ter. Wal-Mart’s on­line busi­ness has been helped in part by its growth in prod­uct as­sort­ment. It now of­fers 23 mil­lion prod­ucts on­line, nearly triple from last year’s hol­i­day shop­ping sea­son.

ComS­core pre­dicts on­line spend­ing on Cy­ber Mon­day will jump to $3.5 bil­lion from $3.12 bil­lion last year.

The firm’s pre­lim­i­nary hol­i­day shop­ping fore­cast is for on­line sales to rise as much as 19 per­cent to $81 bil­lion.

Aside from a dip the day af­ter the con­tentious pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, there are no signs that shop­pers’ ap­petite for spend­ing has been se­ri­ously weak­ened, said comS­core an­a­lyst An­drew Lips­man. Another firm, Adobe Dig­i­tal In­sights, fore­casts on­line sales will be up 11 per­cent to $91.6 bil­lion this hol­i­day sea­son.

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