It's Cyber Monday: Here's What to Expect

The Sears website features their Cyber Monday sales
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By Holly Ellyatt

Consumers are expected to take to the Web to get the best deals delivered in time for Christmas on Monday in what is expected to be the busiest online shopping day of the year, but it may not be all good news for retailers.

Analysts warn that the latest retail data show average spending over the Thanksgiving weekend is falling.

This year, more than 131 million Americans are expected to go online for the shopping extravaganza nicknamed "Cyber Monday," according to data published by the National Retail Federation, up from 129 million in 2012.

Consumers making the most of online deals-and the intense competition between retailers in the lead-up to Christmas -- have also proved a boon for delivery firms, with courier FedEx (FDX) expecting to ship 22 million packages worldwide Monday.

One leading retail analyst said there was "lots and lots of impetus behind Cyber Monday."

"Everyone's just been paid, it's the final pay check that they can feasibly use to order online to guarantee delivery in time for Christmas and a lot of people have generally been in the stores for general Christmas shopping anyway," %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Bryan Roberts, retail insights director at Kantar Retail, told CNBC's "Worldwide Exchange" on Monday.

"That's on top of global newspapers being full of recommendations of decent gifts for friends and family."

Roberts expected over 110 million visits Monday to e-commerce websites, following a record amount of shoppers over the Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S.

Since "Black Friday" last week (the day following Thanksgiving in the U.S. that traditionally kicks off the Christmas shopping season) the NRF estimates that $57.4 billion was spent by 141 million unique shoppers this Thanksgiving weekend.

Spending over the weekend is expected to have declined 2.9 percent, however, an NRF survey of 4,500 shoppers revealed.

Dana Telsey, chief executive of the consulting brokerage firm Telsey Advisory Group, told CNBC that the spending decline was in no small part due to retailers aggressively marketing deals before the Thanksgiving weekend had started.

"You had the promotions and advertising for it all starting way before last Thursday or Friday of Thanksgiving. Many of the deals started last Monday and Tuesday and I think just many of the consumers got washed out over the weekend."

Kantor's Roberts also remarked that although more people were shopping online, he expected the "Cyber Monday" trend of a large bout of e-commerce to dissipate over time.

"A lot of e-commerce businesses or multichannel retailers have really improved their offer and made it more efficient -- you no longer need three weeks to guarantee delivery before Christmas as many retailers offer same or next-day delivery."

As a result of better delivery choices, Roberts and other analysts believe next Monday could also be a mini "Cyber Monday" as shoppers became more relaxed about delivery fulfillment.

"Black Friday" is the latest American export to influence shoppers on the other side of the Atlantic too, analysts have noted. Global research group Experian expects visits to U.K. retail websites to reach 113 million on Cyber Monday, too.

Roberts expected online auction house eBay (EBAY), retailer Amazon (AMZN) and discount chain Argos to be the most visited websites on Monday. "What 'Black Friday' might be doing, as it gains traction in markets like the U.K., is to bring spending forward rather than it being incremental."


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It's Cyber Monday: Here's What to Expect
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While we don't know anyone who doesn't appreciate a seasonal throw blanket, we don't recommend giving them as gifts this year unless you've got a stock of them in the closet from last season. Not only does holiday decor get cheaper after the holiday in question, but bedding and blankets fall to their lowest prices of the year come January and February during "White Sales," which have been a colorful tradition since the 1950s.
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If you have your sights set on a trip to California or Florida, by all means purchase airfare around Black Friday and even closer to Christmas; last year we saw up to 50 percent off coupons from Frontier, JetBlue, and Virgin America. However, if it's an international getaway you're after, we advise you to hold off on booking your flight until the new year. Last year, we saw zero Editors' Choice airfare deals between Thanksgiving and New Year's. But in the first two months of the year, Air Canada offered the lowest base rate we'd seen for flights to Toronto; JetBlue took 80 percent off select flights to the Caribbean; and Lufthansa offered roundtrip fares to Europe for $471.

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