Cyber Monday is forecast to be the largest online shopping day in U.S. history. Not bad for a made-up holiday that has its roots in the painful slowness of dial-up modems.
This year, Americans are expected to spend $6.6 billion online the Monday following Thanksgiving vs. $5 billion online on Black Friday, according to Adobe Analytics. That’s despite ubiquitous smartphones and broadband, and plenty of online deals starting Thursday.
Over time, Cyber Monday has become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Consumers are conditioned to expect a rash of cyber sales when they get back to work on Monday and companies are happy to oblige.
“People love sales and can’t get enough of them,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, a senior retail analyst with Forrester Research. “Very few people are tired of sales.”
Companies like Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Target are happy to oblige.
The first Cyber Monday was in 2005. That’s when Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation came up with the term. Other suggestions were Blue Monday (after the color of web links) or Green Monday (for the money being made) — but she liked the clarity of Cyber Monday.
The idea was to leverage something that was already happening. At the time, online sales were still new. In 2004 just 10% of Americans did any holiday shopping online at all, though by 2005 it was up to around 30%, according to ComScore Networks.
People were used to going out to stores the Friday after Thanksgiving for the shopping madness that had come to be known as Black Friday — as they still do. But to shop online, they waited until they got back to work.
In part that was because most people still only had a slow dialup connection at home.
“They would begin their web shopping on the Monday they got back to work, because that’s where they had access to a high speed Internet connection,” said Gene Alvarez, a retail analyst at Gartner.