On line shopping has undoubtedly hit the mainstream,and the day the e-commerce engine roars the loudest is Cyber Monday.
In 2007, sales rose 36 percent and topped $730 millon for the day. While many individual retailers offer specials on their own websites, an on line clearing house run by the National Retail Federation is CyberMonday.com which hosted some 1.5 million unique visitors last year.
It has literally hundreds of deals. The top banner touts hourly specials, and the site runs the gamut from high end to low, with deals on clothes, electronics toys, virtually anything you want. Some even offer free shipping, but there's usually a minimum purchase.
This year, Retailers are offering the deep discounts earlier than ever before. Many deals are already available nearly a week before Cyber Monday.
Pete Gioia, an economist with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, says the average consumer is simply tapped out. "The cyber sales are performing better than the regular retail sales, but retail overall is hurting very badly."
Overall, the outlook for the holiday shopping season is grim. Gioia believes cyber sales will fare better than traditional retail because of the younger, more free-spending demographic that buys on line.
He says, "you're gonna see a proportionately more activity of a very much weaker retail environment. Obviously people will take care of their immediate family during a holiday shopping season, but they may do so with more bargains and may make their purchases later than we've seen in the past."