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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - US retailers kicked off Cyber Monday by launching a slew of deals earlier than usual over the weekend, seeking to sustain the momentum of a record $11.6 billion in online sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
Shoppers already had nearly a month of sales promotions as retailers look to draw out a holiday season that on paper is six days shorter this year due to a late Thanksgiving.
But estimates from Adobe Analytics on Sunday predicted the opening weekend of US retailers' crucial holiday season would set a new record of almost $30 billion in sales, with Cyber Monday - now traditionally the US economy's biggest online shopping day - alone expected to reach $9.4 billion.
Amazon.com and other traditional retailers such as Target and Walmart have beefed up delivery services to fulfill online orders faster as more customers shop on their mobile phones and tablets at home.
"We expect Cyber Monday to be the second most popular day of the five-day shopping period, mostly driven by mobile traffic, Cowen analyst Oliver Chen said.
Digital sales this year are also likely to get a big boost from orders through social media platforms like YouTube, WeChat, Instagram and Facebook. "Brands and retailers will feel the effects of a Gen Z with even greater purchasing power," said Rob Graf, vice president of strategy and insights at business software provider Salesforce. "They are also pushing the boundaries of where actual purchases will happen."
This year, Target made free shipping available to all its customers throughout the shopping season, while Walmart offered shoppers the option of free two-day shipping or in-store pickup on the same day. A clear winner so far of the early deals and ramped up preparation for the holidays, were retailers with greater online presence or those who had services such as "buy online and pick up at store".
The National Retail Federation estimates nearly 69 million Americans will scour the Web for deals, and Adobe estimates sales of $9.4 billion would be a 19 per cent increase on the same day a year ago. - Reuters
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