Cyber Monday sales top $1 billion for first time

NEW YORK (AP) - Americans jumped on deals and promotions offered online on Cyber Monday, spending $1 billion and making it the busiest online shopping day ever, according to new data.

Research firm comScore Inc. says revenue rose 16 percent from a year ago to $1.03 billion on the Monday after Thanksgiving, the first one-day spending total above $1 billion ever.

Still, analysts cautioned that better results in stores and online during the busy Thanksgiving weekend don't necessarily mean the whole holiday period will be strong. Shoppers might have just been lured by discounts, pulling forward sales from December.

A better picture will emerge Thursday, when the nation's retailers release revenue figures for the month.

Analysts expect revenue in stores open at least a year, a key measurement of a retailer's fiscal health, to rise 3.6 percent in November, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters.

Analysts expect sales of teen clothing and, notably, men's clothing will be strong.

"Men have not done major wardrobe updates in three to four years," RBC Capital Markets analyst Howard Tubin said. "This year, it seems men are focusing on apparel again."

Industry watchers will also be looking for indications that Americans are spending on themselves, and not just sticking to Christmas lists.

Since the beginning of November, online sales are up 13 percent to $13.55 billion, according to comScore. Shoppers responded to the deals and bargains they found online, comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said. Whether they continue to do so in December isn't yet clear.

"While we anticipate that there will be more billion-dollar spending days ahead as we get deeper into the season, only time will tell if overall consumer online spending remains at the elevated levels we've seen thus far," he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, another company that tracks online spending, IBM's Coremetrics, found Cyber Monday sales rose 19.4 percent over last year.

Cyber Monday was also PayPal's biggest day ever. Online payments rose 19 percent from last year.

Though it is growing quickly, online spending makes up only 8 to 10 percent of total holiday spending.

The Cyber Monday figures come a day after a report showed American's confidence in the economy rose to a five-month high in November and is welcome news for retailers hoping that Americans start spending more freely. But shoppers are still holding out for bargains and spending cautiously as unemployment remains high.

According to ShopperTrak figures, revenue at stores in shopping malls was flat over the weekend following Thanksgiving, but traffic rose 2.8 percent.

ComScore said the number of buyers online increased at a slower rate than total spending, up 4 percent to 9 million. The average shopper spent 12 percent more, at $114.24 each, according to the data.

Cyber Monday got its name from the National Retail Federation trade group in 2005 to describe the unofficial kickoff to the online shopping season. The idea was that people returning to work after the long weekend would shop at their desks.

It never really was the busiest online shopping day of the year, but it has gained significance as sellers have trained shoppers to expect deals that day. Nearly 90 percent of U.S. retailers offered some kind of Cyber Monday promotion this year, compared to 72 percent in 2007.

While people used to shop at work to take advantage of broadband connections, the data shows even though broadband has become common at home, about 49 percent of the dollars spent at U.S. Web sites originated from work computers, down 4 percent from last year, comScore says.

Buying at home rose just 4 percent to make up about 45 percent of dollars spent. International shoppers on U.S. sites made up the rest.

The fact that buying at work remains so prevalent suggests they are doing it "to shop for holiday gifts while minimizing the risk that their children, spouses and significant others might see" them shop, Fulgoni said.


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