By, RILA Executive Vice President Casey Chroust
Much like Black Friday, the excitement for Cyber Monday is building as consumers prepare to hit the web in search of holiday deals. Similar to the early Black Friday openings, many retailers are offering “Cyber week,” promotions beginning Cyber Monday Eve or working in tandem with Black Friday by offering on-line deals and promotions on Black Friday and even extending those deals throughout the holiday season.
Experts predict that online sales are going to hit record numbers this holiday season. Forrester Research estimates that online sales this holiday season will reach $60 billion, a 15-percent increase over last year.
A survey commissioned by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), 21% of consumers say they plan to stay at home and search online for shopping deals on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Nineteen percent (19%) of adults say they intend to do most of their holiday shopping over the internet, while 60% of adults plan to do at least some holiday shopping online. For those online holiday shoppers, 22% expect to rely on the Internet more this year compared to last year.
Earlier cyber deals are also being prompted this year by the lingering economic variables facing consumers. Retailers recognize that consumers have fewer dollars to work with this year and firm budgets that they are sticking too. Shoppers want to shop early and take advantage of deals and retailers want to appeal to that consumer and their budget before those dollars are spent elsewhere.
This year consumers will notice retailers are promoting Cyber Monday coupons and Cyber Monday door buster deals through most all mediums available to them and of course playing up the digital crowd and offering deals, contests and information via their website and social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook as well as through mobile and tablet technology.
Additionally, with the popularity of mobile and tablets consumers are more plugged in than ever and retailers are working hard to meet this new demand. While many consumers will take advantage of Cyber Monday from the comfort of their couch or office, retailers don’t want to miss an opportunity with the mobile shopper and will be targeting deals and information to the mobile shopper. And especially for those retailers who are offering pre-Cyber Monday deals over the long holiday weekend they want to accommodate the mobile shopper both in the store and at home.
As such retailers have unveiled new apps for the iPad and the iPhone to help with checking prices, store locations, making purchases and finding product information and reviews. Consumers can shop and browse on their tablets and mobile phones creating a channel within a channel while also utilizing mobile coupons, mobile checkout options and get on the spot product information and deals through geo location.
Finally, brick and mortar retailers will pay particular attention this year to how e-tailers fair with many on-line only retailers able to avoid collecting sales tax at the point of sale, an advantage over the brick and mortar retailer who must collect this tax. Government special treatment for online-only retailers like Amazon and Overstock means a perceived price advantage of up to ten percent against those retailers that are required to collect sales tax. Legislation recently introduced in the United States Senate would allow states to require online sellers like Amazon and Overstock to begin collecting and remitting state sales tax.
According to the RILA commissioned study consumers agree that legislation is needed. Sixty one percent (61%) of consumers surveyed support Congress passing legislation that would allow states to require online-only retailers to collect state sales tax just like storefronts in the community. Not surprisingly, three quarters of those surveyed had no idea that when a sales tax is not collected at the point of purchase on sites like Amazon.com, it’s still owed by the consumer.
TargetPoint Consulting conducted a phone survey of 600 adults aged 18 or older in states with a sales tax November 15-16, 2011. The margin of sampling error of the survey is +/- 4%.