What is Cyber Monday?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Cyber Monday is a name for the Monday following Thanksgiving in the United States, when many online retailers begin their holiday sales. The name was inspired by "Black Friday," the Friday after Thanksgiving, which marks the traditional beginning of the Christmas shopping season for brick-and-mortar retailers, those with physical stores, who offer deep discounts and specials to entice holiday shoppers. The US National Retail Federation's Shop.org coined the term in 2005 based on an apparent increase in Internet traffic and sales on the first day most people return to work after the four-day weekend.

Many online retailers offer discounts on Cyber Monday.
Many online retailers offer discounts on Cyber Monday.

Is Cyber Monday Made Up?

Although the name "Cyber Monday" was invented as a marketing term, there is evidence to support the idea that online sales increase shortly after the US Thanksgiving holiday. Since this is when most holiday shopping in the US starts, sales across retailers tend to be higher overall at this time of year. Many stores that offer pre-holiday and Black Friday sales extend those discounts to the Internet, and often offer different or additional sales only available online. Analysts also say that Internet traffic tends to surge on Mondays, as workers return to the office; although about 2/3 of US households have a broadband Internet connection, a large amount of online shopping is still done from workplace computers.

Shoppers can buy discounted clothing online on Cyber Monday.
Shoppers can buy discounted clothing online on Cyber Monday.

The Monday after Thanksgiving is not always the biggest day for Internet sales, however — that usually comes on a Monday later in December. For many retailers, customers must order at least a week or two before the holiday if they want their gifts delivered by Christmas, and this is often the busiest time for online sales. Some electronics retailers also save their best sales for closer to Christmas.

Retailers may offer smartphone apps that allow consumers the ability to search products in a store for price comparisons.
Retailers may offer smartphone apps that allow consumers the ability to search products in a store for price comparisons.

The idea of Cyber Monday has caught on with consumers, however, and sales for that day have increased sharply. Between 2006 and 2011, online spending doubled, to over $1.2 billion US Dollars (USD) on the Monday after Thanksgiving. The idea has also spread around the world, with retailers in a number of countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, and several others in Europe, offering deals on this day.

A growing percentage of online holiday sales are being made through mobile phones.
A growing percentage of online holiday sales are being made through mobile phones.

Are the Best Sales on Monday?

Many online retailers do offer discounts and savings opportunities for web customers who get their orders in on Cyber Monday. Some online companies also offer incentives and savings options for first-time customers, as well as free shipping. As the term was specifically designed to be a marketing tool, many retailers use it as a way to promote sales early in the season.

Cyber Monday is not necessarily the only time when discounts are offered, however. Although they may promote the Monday after Thanksgiving, many sites do have Black Friday sales that start the previous week or "Cyber Week" sales that last for the full week after. While many of the best deals seem to be offered early in the season, most Internet retailers will offer discounts throughout the holiday shopping season.

The Role of Smartphones

A small but growing percentage of online holiday sales are also made through mobile phones. As more and more consumers have smartphones with Internet access, comparison shopping has become even easier. An increasing number of retailers have apps that allow consumers to look up products in the store before they make their purchase. This allows the potential buyer to compare the item he or she is considering to other similar products, to see if a better deal is available online, and to make the purchase immediately using the phone.

How the Internet Affects Store Sales

The Internet is not only a sales channel; many consumers research their purchases online before going shopping. Many retailers have come to understand that, even for those individuals who prefer to purchase their gifts in stores, the Internet can still be a great marketing tool. Online retailers generally offer a great deal of information along with high-resolution images of their products so that consumers can research them and make purchasing decisions before heading out to shop. While many of the shoppers who browse online shops during Cyber Monday may not purchase their gifts online, the research that they do may lead to in-store purchases a few days later.

This influence works in the other direction as well. Some Cyber Monday sales may be the result of people who could not find what they were looking for — or the price they were looking for — during their Black Friday weekend shopping. For other consumers, seeing the product in the store may help them decide if it's what they want; they may choose to postpone buying it until they can do more comparison shopping online, however.

Many retailers use the Internet in other ways to promote spending both online and in the brick-and-mortar stores. Online advertising is very common, as stores advertise in-store deals on their websites and through email newsletters. Email coupons have become very popular, and often include special codes that allow the same discounts to be credited to in-store or online purchases. Smartphone apps alert consumers to special deals, and may include mobile coupons that don't need to be printed out.

Deals on popular tablet PCs are common on Cyber Monday.
Deals on popular tablet PCs are common on Cyber Monday.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


I can't wait for Cyber Monday. Most likely, I will be downloading apps for my new Nexus One. I prefer learning and memory aid applications like Flash Card Maker Pro. It is optimized for Android pads, tablets, and mobile phones.


I have never heard of this before. Now that I have an online silver jewelry shop, I really do need to be in the now. Are there free sites to register for this Cyber Monday?


Comfyshoes-I know that there are a lot of Cyber Monday coupons that offer free shipping or an additional discount on items.

I also look at the Upromise site. They have a list of online retailers and they list the corresponding specials that they are offering.

They also might include a coupon code which will get me free shipping or a discount on my purchase.

It is really hard to remember all of the places you need to look before you buy. It is important to buy from reputable retailers and make sure that the site is secure.

In the web address after the http there should also be an S after the p which denotes a secure site. Many people lost money trying to buy an Ipad for $100 from fraudulent sites.

The stores will offer reasonable sales but they are not going to give away an item as hot as an Ipad.

They really don’t need to because people will pay full price willingly. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


Suntan12-Wow what a great deal. I sometimes buy in bulk but I try to offer the gifts to people that don’t know each other that way they don’t think that I did not personalize the gift.

Sometimes I wonder if the Cyber Monday 2008 specials or the Cyber Monday 2009 specials were better than this year Cyber Monday specials.

I did not see anything extraordinary that I just had to have. I think that if you shop on Black Friday online, many retailers offer better sales than they do on Cyber Monday.

While not all of the Black Friday specials are honored online there are some specials that are.

For example, I was able to get a handheld video recorder camera for $49.99 at Best Buy on the morning of Black Friday online.

I did not see too many things that compared to that value on Cyber Monday. I only bought a few things when I did my Cyber Monday online shopping.


I agree with you. It is also a good idea to have your list in front of you and determine the dollar amount that you will spend on each person on your list.

This makes it so much easier to shop because you are not trying to remember your list off the top of your head and in some cases buying a great buy in bulk will save you a lot of time.

For example, there was a gorgeous chunk bracelet that originally retailed for $42 that was discounted to $9. A gift like this is such a great value because on top of that the store offered me free shipping and I used a friends and family coupon that saved me an additional $17.50.

But as soon as you see something that is a great value make sure you buy it right away because it may not be available within a few minutes.


Anon130132- I know I love Cyber Monday too. Cyber Monday online shopping is an experience in which you also need to focus.

Just like on Black Friday where you have to have a strategy the same holds true for Cyber Monday. Stores will offer some great Cyber Monday specials and will offer some Cyber Monday deals at below cost.

These Cyber Monday bargains will be in limited quantities, so if you do not go directly to the site early on it will be gone.

I have had items in my shopping cart ready to check out and the system will tell me that the items are no longer available. The items were gone in minutes.

It is best to do your research a few days before and look at the Cyber Monday coupons that are available. Many Cyber Monday sales include free shipping with a certain qualified purchase.


I can't wait for Cyber Monday. Most likely I will be downloading apps for my new Nexus One. I prefer learning and memory aid applications like Flash Card Maker Pro. It is optimized for Android pads, tablets, and mobile phones.

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