While brick-and-mortar stores have Black Friday to kick off the holiday spending spree, online the world belongs to Cyber Monday. This year, record numbers of retailers are promoting special deals for the shopping day.
"Almost any retailer with a website is really getting into the Cyber Monday craziness and chaos," said Ellen Davis, vice president of the National Retail Federation. A survey conducted by the nonprofit found that nearly 90 percent of retailers have some sort of Cyber Monday promotion, up from 73 percent last year.
"What we are seeing for Cyber Monday specifically: a lot of free shipping deals, one-day sales, percentages off the entire site, which is great if you're a holiday shopper looking to save," Davis said.
Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation, coined the phrase "Cyber Monday" to illustrate the trend of people shopping online the Monday after Thanksgiving, when shoppers coming back from holiday travels or unsuccessful Black Friday trips started to troll websites for seasonal bargains. They did it from the comfort of their work computers, where Internet connections were faster and more secure, and they could shop away from nosy children or the prying eyes of spouses. Retailers caught on, and so Cyber Monday was born.
Even non-retailers, such as e-commerce coupon company Groupon, are getting in on the Cyber Monday action. Julie Mossler, of Groupon, said the company is ideal for online shoppers.
"Groupon serves more than 130 markets in North America, so you can take care of all your holiday shopping for friends around the country without leaving your desk," said Mossler. Groupon's deals are mostly for local merchants. Instead of traditional gifts that go in wrapped boxes, Mossler said the company is seeing more and more shoppers buy experiences for friends and family around the country.
"Is someone going to remember you for the sweater you got them this year or is someone going to remember you for their first sky-diving deal or first wine tasting?" Mossler said.
Online Shoppers More Valuable to Retailers
For online retailer Overstock.com, sales on Cyber Monday are 15 percent to 20 percent bigger than Black Friday. The company's CEO, Patrick Byrne, said he believes it takes until Monday for shoppers to remember why they hate going to the mall on Black Friday, standing in line, and elbowing their way to products.
"I think it's a much better experience online, you find it quicker, you become an expert quicker ... and you get a better deal," said Byrne. For the best deals on his site, Byrne reccommends signing up for the company's social media networks, such as its Facebook page. Customers who follow Overstock on Facebook will gain access to Cyber Monday deals before the general public.
Cyber Monday is still in its infancy but is slated for huge growth. Market research firm comScore reported Cyber Monday sales of $887 million last year, an increase of 5 percent over 2008. The company expects sales to grow even higher this year.
"We do anticipate it to surpass $900 million and could potentially approach $1 billion," said Andrew Lipsman, of comScore.
Those sales are driven in part by online shoppers spending more than those who shop in-store only. According to Chris Donnelly, of consulting firm Accenture, consumers who shop through multiple channels, such as online, on a mobile phone and in-store, are much more valuable to retailers.
"They buy more often, and our research tells us that in some industry segments they spend, on average, almost three times as much a month as those who shop using just one channel," said Donnelly.
Given the number of retailers jumping on board, the increased marketing, and the money being spent, online buyers will have to compete with fellow shoppers for the best deals this year. But instead of early morning lines or jostling in the aisles, the battle will be waged from the comfort of a living room couch, or the privacy of a work cubicle.
Cyber Monday Bargains
These were some of the best Cyber Monday bargains ABC found:
Clothing, Shoes and Accessories
• Amazon.com: Spend $75 Get 25 percent off, Spend $150, Get 30 percent off (restrictions apply)
• Amazon.com: Swiss Legend Men's Commander Collection Watch: $49.99 (regularly $595)
• Ebags.com: 30 percent off the entire website and free shipping for orders over $100
• Etsy.com: Enter "Cyber Monday Etsy" to bring up all the items with deals on that day
• Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic online: Free shipping for orders over $50
• Kmart.com: Jaclyn Smith Cashmere Sweater $29.99 (regularly $69.99)
• Piperlime.com: 20 percent off the entire website (some exclusions, see site for details)
• ToryBurch.com: Free tote with orders over $150, 30 percent off when you spend more than $300, free shipping and gift for orders over $350
Home and Bath
• Lowes.com: free shipping on all online orders, no minimum
• Sears.com: Craftsman 260-piece mechanic tool set $169.99 (regularly $299.99)
• Walgreens.com: Phillips toothbrush $39.99 (regularly $74.99); as well as $20 off $75 online purchases; $15 off $60; $5 off 30 and free shipping on orders over $25
Televisions and Electronics
• Macconnection.com: White 13.3" MacBook $849 after mail-in rebate, free shipping included
• Sears.com: LG 55-inch 1080P LCD HDTV $1,779.99 (regularly $2,279.99)
• Kmart.com: Ripstik Ripster $39.99 (regularly $59.99)
• Sears.com: Fisher-Price Trio Kings Castle $35.99 (regularly $59.99)
Other Hot Deals
• Groupon.com: $25 for $75 of wine at Barclay's online wine shop; some of the best city specific deals: $30 massage (list price $60) in Seattle, or $140 for a hot air balloon ride (list price $325) in Atlanta.
• HarryandDavid.com: 25 percent off any purchase
• QVC.com: offering different deals roughly every hour, some highlights: toy sales start at 5am, electronics deals start at 9am; specials on NFL merchandise start at 6pm.
ABC News' Lyneka Little contributed to this story.