Cyber Monday: The Results

Rob Hof

I'm kind of surprised how my article on how Cyber Monday isn't all it's cracked up to be has prompted so many folks out there to come down rather hard on the marketing types who came up with the notion. Scott Silverman at Shop.org, which came up with the term, called me today, understandably concerned about how many people seem to think the organization made up the term out of whole cloth. As the story pointed out, that's certainly not true. The Monday after Thanksgiving does see a rise in traffic and sales over the previous Monday.

My point, and where I continue to differ with Scott, was that it's nothing like Black Friday is for traditional retailers in the malls. It's neither the first big spike in traffic or sales for the holiday season, nor even close to the biggest of the year. And Monday's numbers bear out the story. ComScore Networks showed only a modest 9% increase in sales Monday over the previous Tuesday, which was the real kickoff of the season, when sales had spiked 55%. Likewise, Nielsen//NetRatings said Cyber Monday traffic from people shopping at work rose 18% from the week before. But that's far below the 39% week-over-week spike on Black Friday from home shoppers. In fact, it's even below the 25% at-work jump in traffic on Saturday, when folks must have slipped into the office to do some clicking after not finding what they wanted at the mall Friday. Another Web performance service, AlertSite, actually saw the biggest traffic jump on Thanksgiving night, calling Cyber Monday a "dud."

I wouldn't go that far, but here's where I think the main problem lies: our headline. I have to admit that "Cyber Monday, Marketing Myth" is a little over the top. Just don't blame the folks at Shop.org for doing their jobs: promoting online shopping. And they apparently did that job well: As my article noted, a few merchants who latched onto the Cyber Monday idea did in fact see a big jump in business. It's just that for online retailers overall, the biggest days are still to come. That's something no amount of clever marketing will change.

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