According to retailers in the United States, the holiday season shopping officially starts on Black Friday (the Friday following Thanksgiving), while its online version kicks off on Cyber Monday (the Monday after Black Friday).

Origin of Cyber Monday

Actually, Cyber Monday is a savvy marketing term created and hyped by businesses to encourage people to do their holiday shopping online. It was first used on 28 November 2005 in a press release, entitled “’Cyber Monday’ Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year”. Scott Silverman, the head of, said that the term was coined based on research showing that 78% of online retailers reported a significant increase in sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2004. To promote this so-called phenomenon, announced in 2006 the launch of the portal as a one-stop centre for Cyber Monday deals.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Why the phenomenon?

  • It appears that many consumers, after the long Thanksgiving weekend, tend to continue their shopping, though this time online, given that there is still a lot of holiday shopping to be done.
  • A majority of them also seem to be doing their online shopping from their work stations, taking advantage of the high speed broadband connections to mull over various Cyber Monday deals from different retailers.
  • People generally like to do online shopping as it is more convenient (from the comfort of their home or office), easier to do price comparisons (just by surfing through several websites) and not having to squeeze through crowds to look at items. If free shipping is thrown in, they need not carry the items home themselves.
Cyber Monday

But is it really true?

According to some critics, Cyber Monday is just a marketing gimmick, and that it has never been the biggest day of the year for online sales. According to Andrew Lipsman, director of analysis at comScore, Cyber Monday is usually the 7th to 9th biggest day for e-commerce.’s Silverman himself also conceded that Cyber Monday was not the biggest day for e-commerce, but rather an opportunity to create some consumer excitement.

Lipsman also observed that Mondays, regardless of whether it is after Thanksgiving or not, tend to be popular days for e-commerce. This could be people taking advantage of the high-speed broadband connections at work to do their personal online shopping or merely using retail therapy to deal with the Monday blues.

Dan de Grandpre, editor-in-chief of DealNews, noted that Cyber Monday deals usually included items that had not been sold on Black Friday.  Moreover, there has also been no research on whether online shopping eats into in-store sales, which would mean that Cyber Monday merely complements the holiday shopping phenomenon, rather than exists as a stand- alone entity.


So what’s the deal now?

Notwithstanding its dubious origin, thanks to the massive marketing hype and media buzz, Cyber Monday has since become a self-fulfilling phenomenon. With attractive Cyber Monday deals attracting many consumers online, retailers are witnessing a significant rise in their online sales.

According to comScore (a company that monitors online traffic), online spending on Cyber Monday jumped 25% to $608 Million in 2006, 21% to $733 Million in 2007, and 15% to $846 Million in 2008. By 2009, the figure has risen by 16% to reach $1.028 billion.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), nearly 100 million Americans shop on Cyber Monday. Given these figures, retailers naturally would like the momentum to continue, especially into the holiday season. Nearly 90% of retailers now offer Cyber Monday deals such as big discounts and free shipping offers.

Given its favorable response in the United States, the term has also since been adopted by online retailers in other countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and New Zealand.