Cyber Monday: Walmart, Target compete with Amazon, online sites

The holiday shopping rush continues online today as employees returning to work after the Thanksgiving break use their desktop computers and mobile devices to hunt for bargains on gifts.

Cyber Monday — a term coined after retailers saw a rise in online sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving — is expected to be the biggest online shopping day ever, racking up an estimated $3.36 billion in sales, an increase of 9.4 percent over last year, according to Adobe Digital Insights, a research firm that tracks retail website sales.

A survey by the National Retail Federation found that 36 percent of consumers plan to shop online today , up from the 34 percent in 2015.

Overall online sales are expected to hit record levels this holiday season.

Roughly 56 percent of shoppers plan to purchase items from online sites this year, up 6.8 percent from 2015, according to the survey released last month by the retail federation.

The survey found brick-and-mortar department stores are expected to narrowly beat out online sites as the top place consumers plan to shop this season. But non-store retail sales, including those from online sites, mobile devices and other forms of e-commerce, are expected to grow by 7 percent to 10 percent this year, the federation said.

The rise of internet sales has retailers trying to woo shoppers with Cyber Monday deals that start earlier and run longer.

Take Target. The big box chain announced last week that it would be offering a 15 percent discount on nearly everything its sells — including Apple products — both online and in its stores. The Cyber Monday sale started Sunday and continues through today.

Target saw record-breaking sales last year during a similar Cyber Monday promotion, which was so popular it caused problems for the company’s website. Target officials said they decided to expand the promotion this year, offering the savings over a two-day period and making the discount available both in stores and online.

“Last year on Cyber Monday, we offered 15 percent off site-wide for the first time ever,” Mike McNamara, Target’s chief information and digital officer wrote in a blog posted on the company’s website. “It was a huge moment for us. Traffic and orders exploded, shattering sales records and also causing our website to buckle under the pressure. The message from guests—which is what we call our Target customers—was loud and clear: Guests loved saving 15 percent across Target’s broad assortment during the holiday shopping season.”

This year, McNamara said the company is ready for the traffic.

“Since last year, our tech teams have stood up an entirely new front-end and back-end for our website,” McNamara wrote. “We have been furiously pressure-testing the site with both simulated and real traffic. We’ve also built more flexibility into the site so it can scale up for major events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and I’m confident the site can now handle far greater volume than a year ago.”

Target isn’t alone. Walmart and Sears have also expanded Cyber Monday promotions.

Sears announced last week that Cyber Monday sale would begin a day earlier and run a day longer.

After nearly tripling the number of projects it sells online to more than 23 million items this year, Walmart has planned its largest Cyber Week event yet. The sale began the day after Thanksgiving — while other retailers were still touting Black Friday deals.

After record-breaking Cyber Monday sales last year, Amazon said it plans to offer more than more than 75,000 deals during the week of Cyber Monday this year.

Last year on Cyber Monday, Amazon customers ordered more than 54 million items worldwide – a record-breaking 629 items per second – and it’s expected that this year will be even bigger,” Amazon said in a news release posted on its website.

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