What Is Cyber Monday, History and Milestones?

What Is Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday is an e-commerce term referring to the Monday following the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend. As brick-and-mortar stores do with Black Friday, online retailers usually offer special promotions, discounts, and sales on this day. Meanwhile, traditional retailers offer exclusive, website-only deals. The result suggests to some that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have merged into a combination of in-store-and-online shopping experience that has blurred the distinction between the two days.

Key Takeaways

  • Cyber Monday is an e-commerce term referring to the Monday following the Thanksgiving weekend.
  • It is the second-biggest shopping day and the biggest day for online sales.
  • The term Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 by Shop.org, the online arm of the National Retail Federation.
  • Although Cyber Monday had its origins in the United States, it now happens in other countries as well.
  • The Black Friday/Cyber Monday movement has inspired other special days, including Small Business Saturday and even a day dedicated to charity—Giving Tuesday.

Understanding Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday falls four days after Thanksgiving. It was created to encourage consumers to shop online. Although Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving—remains the busiest single shopping day of the year, the arrival of COVID-19, perhaps combined with other factors, resulted in $9 billion in online spending on Black Friday in 2020 and $10.8 billion on Cyber Monday.

Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers devote increasing amounts of time and energy to online sales to compete with each other as well as with their cyber rivals. For 2021, the National Retail Federation predicted online spending would amount to between $218.3 billion and $226.2 billion over the holiday season. This represents up to 27% of the $843.4 billion shoppers are expected to spend in November and December.

Consumers relish Cyber Monday for several reasons. Many people don't want to spend time away from family during the holiday just to get a bargain, while others don't want to wait in the long lines that form on Black Friday. Cyber Monday provides consumers with a convenient, hassle-free way to shop and cash in on some great deals. And with most retailers now offering free shipping as an incentive to shop on Cyber Monday, it makes shopping online even more attractive.

Although Cyber Monday had its origins in the United States, it is now an international concept. Many e-commerce companies around the world use the term to market promotions to boost their sales at that time of year.

History of Cyber Monday

The term Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 by Shop.org, the online arm of the National Retail Federation (NRF). The trade association noted that web purchases often spiked on the Monday after Thanksgiving in prior years. There were a few different theories as to why this was so.

One theory suggested that people saw items in stores and shopping malls over the weekend but waited until Monday to buy them at work where they had computers with faster Internet connections. Remember, in the early 21st century, there were no smartphones or tablets, and high-speed, broadband options for residences were in their infancy.

Another theory attributed the phenomenon to the unpleasant experiences brought on by the Thanksgiving weekend. If you were looking to land some phenomenal post-Turkey Day bargains, you could skip the family feast, camp out in the parking lot of your favorite store, and fight your way through a mob of bargain hunters at the break of dawn on Black Friday. Or you could roll out of bed on Monday morning, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and browse the web for rock-bottom prices.

Cyber Monday Milestones

With its official naming, Cyber Monday became designated as the day for deals and discounts, reinforcing its popularity. There was a huge impact almost immediately.

In 2005, sales were $484 million. By 2010, that number hit the $1 billion mark. 

In 2011, CNBC reported for the first time that Black Friday and Cyber Monday had merged into a single Thanksgiving shopping weekend.

By 2016, most major retailers had moved from Cyber Monday to Cyber Monday Week, offering a revolving menu of deals over several days. Amazon was a leader in that movement followed by Kohl's, which extended its Cyber sale into December.

Cyber Monday sales in 2019 reached $7.9 billion partly due to Black Friday sale items selling out then offered again on Cyber Monday, giving consumers a second chance at some of the best deals.

The year of the pandemic, 2020, saw more consumers shopping online during Thanksgiving weekend than ever before. Black Friday digital spending hit $9 billion and Cyber Monday spending reached nearly $10 billion. In 2020, Cyber Monday even knocked Black Friday off the perch as the top planned shopping day. Going into the 2020 season, 30% of shoppers said they planned to shop Cyber Monday sales, compared to the 24% who said they planned to shop Black Friday sales. The pandemic likely had a lot to do with this outcome. In 2021 and 2022, Black Friday returned to primacy, including in online sales.

For 2022, Black Friday saw 87.2 million shoppers, followed by 77 million more on Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Foundation. Cyber Monday sales reached $11.3 billion, according to Adobe Analytics.

Cyber Monday Goes Global

As noted above, Cyber Monday started out in the United States in 2005 but has since become an international marketing term. Currently, 28 countries participate in Cyber Monday, with awareness highest in the U.K. at 89%. Other top countries based on their awareness levels include Germany (86%), Spain (85%), Italy (80%), Netherlands (70%), Sweden (69%), and Denmark (52%).

All this has led major U.S. retailers to build e-commerce websites in the language of the target audience, a move designed to build a loyal customer base in other countries. Events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday provide retailers with opportunities to reach new markets and grow globally. This also involves analysis of buying trends to determine what appeals to shoppers in other countries and how best to meet demand.

Beyond Cyber Monday

The Black Friday-Cyber Monday mania has sparked other days dedicated to specific industries. Small Business Saturday falls on the day after Black Friday—generally the last Saturday in November. This day was launched in 2010 as a way to pull consumers away from large, big-box retailers and draw them to shop with local small businesses.

Giving Tuesday falls on the Tuesday after Cyber Monday. This day was first introduced to consumers in 2012 as a way to promote charitable donations during the holiday season and to counter the commercialization and consumer culture of the Thanksgiving season. Many large corporations, such as Google, Meta (formerly Facebook), and UNICEF have since become partners for Giving Tuesday, with pledges to match donations made by employees and the general public.

What Was the Total Amount of Online Sales on Cyber Monday in the U.S. in 2022?

Total online sales on Cyber Monday 2022 in the U.S. were $11.3 billion, according to Adobe Analytics. This made Cyber Monday 2022 the biggest online e-commerce day of all time.

How Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Affect In-Person Shopping in 2020?

Sales at brick-and-mortar stores declined almost 24% during Cyber Week 2020, which was considered a major contributing factor to the uptick in online sales.

What Is the Peak Buying Time on Cyber Monday?

According to Adobe Analytics, the peak buying hour on Cyber Monday 2022 was 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. EST, when the buying rate reached $12.8 million per minute.

Article Sources
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  7. CNBC. "Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday: The Rivalry Is Over, Consumers Won." Accessed Feb. 6, 2022.

  8. National Retail Federation. "Record 196.7 Million Consumers Shop Over Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend."

  9. National Retail Federation. "Nearly 180 Million Shop Over Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend."

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  11. Finances Online. "67 Remarkable Cyber Monday Statistics."

  12. Small Business Association (SBA). "Small Business Saturday."

  13. American Express. "The Story of the Shop Small® Movement."

  14. GivingTuesday. "About GivingTuesday."

  15. USA Today. "Black Friday, Cyber Monday 2022."

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