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Monica Chavez packs gift-wrapped merchandise Monday at an Amazon.com fulfillment center in Phoenix. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

‘Cyber Monday’ sales soar as mobile grows

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Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

By Phil Wahba and Dhanya Skariachan

Reuters

NEW YORK — U.S. online sales are expected to hit $2 billion for “Cyber Monday,” for the first time since the data firm comScore began tracking such information.

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Monday’s 20 percent increase is expected to come even after many consumers shopped earlier because retailers began offering online discounts on Sunday to compete with each other and online retail giant Amazon.com Inc.

Sales were up 17.5 percent Monday evening, according to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark.

“All of them are behind Amazon, but some are starting to catch up,” said Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough, said of bricks-and-mortar retailer, but gave Macy’s Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. good grades for their e-commerce operations.

E-commerce now accounts for roughly 10 percent of retail spending in the United States. However, it is growing much faster than sales at bricks-and-mortar stores as shoppers seek low prices, convenience, faster shipping and wider selection. Cyber Monday is the busiest day of the year for online sales.

U.S. shoppers spent almost 3 percent less overall than they did a year earlier during the Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation data. But online sales rose 17.3 percent on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, outpacing sales growth at brick-and-mortar stores, data from comScore Inc. showed.

It is too soon to know which retailers are winning, but a fuller picture will emerge Thursday when some stores report monthly same store sales.

On Monday, the S&P Retail Index finished the day down 0.7 percent. Macy’s Inc. shares fell 1.5 percent, while J.C. Penney Co. was down 1.8 percent and Target Corp. down 1.9 percent. EBay Inc. was up 1.6 percent, while Gap Inc. rose up 1.5 percent.

Electronics were again the top seller Monday.

Walmart.com CEO Joel Anderson said the retailer has run out of Sony Corp PS4 and and Microsoft Corp’s XBox consoles, as had Target, but both chains expected fresh supplies.

PriceGrabber, a price comparison website, said that as of Monday afternoon, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablet was the most sought after item. Over the weekend, the most common searches were for Apple Inc’s iPad and iPad Mini tablets.

Growing importance of mobile

A big source of online shopping growth this holiday season has come from increased use of smart phones, which enable consumers buy online with tablets or in-stores with their phones.

According to IBM, mobile sales accounted for 15.6 percent of online sales as of Monday at 6 p.m. compared to 13 percent on Cyber Monday in 2012.

“Consumers really seem to like the ease of shopping on the go. They have been browsing with their smartphones and buying with their tablet devices,” said Jay Henderson, Strategy Director for IBM.

Walmart.com’s Anderson said mobile shopping accounted for 55 percent of its traffic. Blue Nile Inc. CEO Harvey Kanter told Reuters that 60 percent of visits to its website and 25 percent of sales were made on a mobile device during the weekend.

But many retailers’ websites are better suited to laptops than to phones or tablets, noted Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru. “There’s still work to do.”

UPS expected to ship 32 million packages Monday, 1 million more than last year, said Alan Gershenhorn, the company’s chief sales, marketing, and strategy officer.

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