Cyber Monday sales hit all-time record as mobile-device use climbs

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Employees at Kohl's in Washington Township get ready for at least 500 waiting customers at 3 a.m. on Black Friday.

Smartphones and other mobile devices helped propel Cyber Monday to a record $3.45 billion in online sales, according to Adobe Systems Inc.

The figure represents a 12.1 percent increase from 2015 — and marks the largest online sales day ever, surpassing Adobe’s original prediction by 2.6 percent.

More telling, say retail experts, it showed the narrowed gap between venturing to physical stores and clicking a mouse to make a purchase.

Adobe reported mobile spending on Cyber Monday started off strong early in the day, but slowed in the evening hours, generating $1.07 billion. That's a 34 percent year-over-year increase, but still $130 million less than Black Friday.

Still, the deals began earlier this year, with people hunting for Black Friday specials as early as Nov. 1. Walmart.com, for instance, began Cyber Monday on Black Friday.

The holiday shopping season — which officially kicked off on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving — so far has generated about $40 billion in online revenue, a 7.6 percent increase from a year ago, according to Adobe.

Jennifer Gardella, 47, a social-media consultant from Doylestown, ventured out to one store Saturday for kitchen curtains at Bed Bath & Beyond in Warrington. The rest of her weekend shopping was done online on Cyber Monday.

“I was really careful watching the sales and what was available,” Gardella said Tuesday. "I hedged my bets a little that the deals would extend into Cyber Monday from Black Friday. I was dead-on right. Even with what I bought online on Friday, there were better deals on Monday, so I got  price adjustments.”

She said she bought a pair of boots from Amazon.com that were 30 percent off and a new travel backpack that was marked 60 percent off on ebags.com.

Gardella did her shopping from her laptop, as did most consumers. But the report found mobile devices are close behind, accounting for 47 percent of visits to retail websites.

Adobe said the online numbers so far were on track with its projection that the holiday shopping season (November and December) will drive $91.6 billion in online sales.

Melina Cordero, head of retail research for the Americas at CBRE, the nation's largest commercial real estate firm, said the numbers point to the growing convergence between  brick-and-mortar stores and their  websites.

“While the headlines screamed that online sales grew dramatically and in-store sales declined in the holiday season's early days, the more accurate account is that retailers’ omni-channel sales increased,” Cordero said. “Shoppers now use multiple channels — online, in-store, and especially mobile — to research and then make their purchases.”

One retailer that boasted of success on all channels Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday week was Kohl’s.

“Our Black Friday event produced our top two days of traffic and sales on Kohls.com ever,” CEO and president Kevin Mansell said in an email to Kohl’s customers Tuesday. “Store traffic was also extremely strong, as we saw customers enjoy the experience of shopping together with family and friends."

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