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Cyber Monday

Retailers in the US have for at least the last 25 years called the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday, because it’s the day when everybody wants to shop. It’s said to be the day when stores go into profit (go into the black on their books), though that’s an urban legend — early usage examples show it was given that name because of all the crowds and snarled-up traffic.

In November 2005 the online retailer gave the name Cyber Monday to the Monday after Thanksgiving. The rationale was that in recent years it has become the biggest online shopping day of the year, with people logging on from work to buy things for Christmas. When I wrote briefly about this term at the time, I suggested it was unlikely it would still be around in 2006. I was so wrong.

According to Google News, more than a thousand pieces mentioning it appeared in US newspapers during November and early December 2006. However, the main story of 2006 — which was based on a survey by MasterCard — asserted it was a myth, as records suggested that the peak day online in 2005 was really 5 December (as the Orlando Sentinel put it on 29 November 2006: “Cyber Monday may need to be renamed Cyber Hype”). Britt Beemer, the founder and CEO of America’s Research Group asserted that “Cyber Monday is a hoax. The Cyber Monday theory was that consumers would rush to make purchases on-line on the Monday after Black Friday either to get better prices or to order from their computer at work. Neither is true.” Another survey claims the peak day in 2005 was 12 December and yet a third predicted that in 2006 it would be on 18 December.

As all these dates are Mondays, the name could still be made to fit, though nobody seems to want to move it from its immediate post-Thanksgiving position. So much promotional activity was poured into Cyber Monday this year by online retailers that it may become the busiest electronic shopping day through a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Even if Cyber Monday is not the biggest online shopping day, merely a flimsy promotion meant to attract media attention and push people to shop online (classic Hallmark holiday), a bunch of people actually did buy stuff online Monday, and it’s useful to see what the Internet masses are shopping for.

Washington Post, 1 Dec. 2006

With no parking lot congestion, or checkout lines, it was easy yesterday to overlook Cyber Monday, the e-commerce equivalent of “Black Friday.” But Cyber Monday, so designated by the National Retail Federation, has gained acceptance as an Internet shopping phenomenon. Following the rush of crowds to brick-and-mortar stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving, many consumers use their high-bandwidth Internet connections at work to get serious about their online Christmas shopping.

Cedar Rapids Gazette, 29 Nov. 2006

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Page created 09 Dec 2006