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29 11 2010

With three shopping “holidays” out of the last four, it’s a wonder anyone gets anything done. First there was mayhem at the mall on Black Friday. Then we were entreated to shop locally by participating in Small Business Saturday. And now, after a day off to mow the lawn (or tally our remaining credit limits), we have Cyber Monday.

Hey, as long as your bandwidth can handle it, it’s a lot less crowded at my computer.

Cyber Monday has been around for about five years, the realization that many people had informally been doing what the rest of us have now been invited to join: Shopping online at work after a long, tiring Thanksgiving weekend. And as analysts are now showing, Cyber Monday is a huge player in the retail scene. About 107 million USAmericans (that’s about one-third of us) are expected to shop online today alone.

Well, pass the mouse and log out of your Facebook. It’s time to go shopping.

Analysts are very upbeat about online shopping this Christmas season, expecting an 11% increase from 2009. Furthermore, retailers are pumped as well, with about 90% offering promos today and throughout the holiday buying season.

Of course, the greatest thing about buying online is that stores never close, there’s no trouble finding parking, no whiny kids, and no crowds. On Thanksgiving Day, while we were supposed to be eating turkey and watching football, online sales totaled $407 million. By the time we reach Christmas, it is predicted we will have spent $32.4 billion online.

That’s a little over $100 for every man, woman and child in the US.

Which is another way of saying, for a family of four, that about $400 less will be spent locally, and in many instances, without sales taxes being assessed.

So much for all of those “Shop Local” campaigns. And I bet few if any among us spent $400 a couple of days ago on Small Business Saturday.

Which basically means that we customers are finally starting to get it. As much as braving the elements and crowds have become American tradition, and as much as we pay lip service to the romantic notion of helping our neighborhood shop owner survive, we have truly become a nation of shoppers intent on having access to everything, and buying it completely on our terms. It doesn’t matter if the vendor is in Tampa or Topeka, Dallas or Denver, we want it all, and we want it cheap. Night. Day. On our porch in a day or two.

This new reality may be a hard pill to swallow for some, but there is nothing stopping anyone from joining the fray. I told this to my friend over lunch today, noting that Amazon stock is at $180 per share. Not bad for a business that was started in a garage in 1995, has purchased and in the last couple of years, and is for all intents and purposes, the new Walmart. Never mind that Amazon was awash in red ink the first six years of its existence.

As for me, I have some shopping to do. Online, of course. We’ve already spent $480 today (free shipping…no tax), but I’m not quite done. Yet. And it’s good to know I have 107 million friends out there doing the same.

Dr “Doing My Part To Raise The Average” Gerlich



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