Millions of Americans were expected to shop with a few clicks of their computers or mobile devices Monday to take advantage of special discounts offered on the first working day after the long Thanksgiving weekend.
Cyber Monday is projected to be the busiest day of the year for online shopping. The National Retail Federation, a trade group, predicts more than 131 million people will shop online, up about 2 percent from last year.
And research firm comScore expects Cyber Monday sales of $2 billion, up from about $1.47 billion last year. Online sales account for about 10 percent of total holiday spending, which is expected to grow about 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion for the months of November and December.
Early results show online shopping was up 21.4 percent compared with the same time last year, according to figures by IBM Benchmark released at noon. Mobile traffic, which includes smartphones and tablets, accounted for 31 percent of all online traffic.
"We're expecting to see strong gains as retailers roll out new promotions and make new products available on their websites," said Jay Henderson, strategy director for IBM. "Online commerce seems to really be driving this holiday season."
Cyber Monday comes after retailers' failed efforts to boost spending during the holiday weekend. They offered big discounts in early November, and several opened stores on Thanksgiving Day. But The National Retail Federation predicts that spending fell for the first time ever, down 2.9 percent to $57.4 billion, during the four days that ended Sunday.
About 81 percent of retailers planned to offer deals specifically for Cyber Monday, according to the NRF's online arm, called Shop.org.
But this year so-called Cyber Monday seems to have stretched into Cyber Week or even Cyber Month, with retailers such as Amazon and Wal-Mart rolling out online deals since the beginning of November.
On Monday morning, Abercrombie & Fitch was offering 50 percent off everything online plus free shipping. Target had deals including $70 off a 32-inch TV with a Roku streaming stick, on sale for $230 and a Dyson vacuum for $400, $200 off.
Amazon started its cyber deals on midnight on Sunday, including half-off some toys and half off a 46-nich Samsung LED HDTV at $478. And Wal-Mart began offering online-only deals on Saturday, including $500 off a 55-inch LED TV bundle and free shipping on orders over $35.
Brandon Harris, 27, from Memphis, Tenn., started shopping at midnight Sunday and by Monday had spent about $300 and completed half of his Christmas shopping, including a Barbie doll for his niece and a TV for his mother.
"I haven't shopped for a Christmas present in a store in three years," he said, making purchases from his iPad instead. "It's a lot more convenient to be at home and shop."
On Monday morning, Arthur Baynes, 30, was checking out email deals on his smartphone. Baynes, a travel insurance claims adjuster from Richmond, Va., was looking for a new TV and Blu-Ray games for his younger relatives.
"When I'm looking for something, I'll look it up on my phone and then use the Amazon app on my iPad to buy," he said. "It's just easier. I don't have to sit down where my computer is."
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