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Retailers are shifting their holiday promotions up earlier each year, and the buzz has moved progressively from “Cyber Monday” to Black Friday and finally to Thanksgiving Day itself, with reports of mass merchants beginning their sales in the middle of what is for many still an important family holiday.
Is this a bridge too far? An October survey from credit card comparison and financial education website CreditDonkey.com found that 41% of US consumers planned to shop on Black Friday this year, compared to 57% who said they would shop a few days later on Cyber Monday. In addition, most respondents said they planned to spend less this year on Black Friday than they had in 2011—while a majority of Cyber Monday shoppers planned to spend more than they did a year earlier.
In August comScore reported that 2011 Black Friday online spending was up 26% over the 2010 level, compared with a 22% jump in spending on Cyber Monday. Despite slower growth, Cyber Monday remained the biggest single online shopping day of the year, with US internet users spending over $1.25 billion.
eMarketer forecasts that this year, online holiday season sales (including all online sales during November and December) will reach $54.47 billion, up 16.8% over 2011 levels. This will be the fourth consecutive year that online holiday sales post annual growth in the mid-to-high teens, after plummeting 8.2% in 2008 during the depths of the Great Recession.
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