NEW YORK - Shoppers traded bricks for clicks on Monday, flocking online to snap up "Cyber Monday" deals on everything from cashmere sweaters to Star Wars toys.
Now that shoppers are online all the time anyway, the 10-year-old shopping holiday has lost some of its luster as online sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday pick up.
But enough shoppers have been trained to look for "Cyber Monday" specific sales to ensure that the holiday will still mean big bucks for retailers.
It's too early for sales figures, but Monday is still expected to be the biggest online shopping day ever, likely tallying more than $3 billion in sales, according to research firm comScore. Adobe, which tracks 200 million visitors to 4,500 retail websites, said $490 million had been spent online as of 10 a.m. Monday, the latest data available. That's 14 percent higher than a year ago.
"A lot of people wait to see if deals are better on Cyber Monday," said Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru.
Some hot sellers were in scarce supply by early afternoon Monday. At Target, a Swagway hoverboard was sold out by early afternoon. The electronic transportation gadget had been $100 off at $399. Drones and some Star Wars toys were hard to find as well.
"There are certain hot products, hoverboards seem to be a phenomenon, they're selling out everywhere," said Scot Wingo, chairman of ChannelAdvisor, which provides e-commerce services to retailers.
And there were a few brief outages at sites like Neiman Marcus and Target, and online payment company PayPal reported a brief interruption in service.
Retailers have been touting online deals since the beginning of November. And they no longer wait for Monday to roll out Cyber Monday deals, either. Amazon started "Lighting Deals" on Saturday and Wal-Mart began all of its Cyber Monday offers 8 p.m. Sunday.
"It's no longer about one day, but a season of digital deals," said Matthew Shay, president of retail trade group the National Retail Federation.
That seems to have taken a toll on bricks-and-mortar shopping. Frenzied crowds seemed to be a thing of the past on Black Friday - the busy shopping day after Thanksgiving - and sales fell to $10.4 billion this year from $11.6 billion in 2014, according to preliminary figures from research firm ShopperTrak.
"Consumers are recognizing the Internet is the place to go for a deal anytime, any day," said Gene Alvarez, managing vice president of research firm Gartner.
ComScore expects online sales to rise 14 percent to $70.06 billion during the November and December shopping period, slowing slightly from last year's 15 percent rise. Online sales make up 10 percent of retail sales, but that increases to 15 percent during the holidays as online shoppers snap up Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, according to research firm Forrester.
The name Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 by the National Retail Federation's online arm, Shop.org, to encourage people to shop online. The name was also a nod to online shopping being done at work, where faster connections made it easier to browse. Now, even with broadband access, Cyber Monday continues to be a day when retailers pull out big promotions.