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Cyber Monday

noun [countable/uncountable] American

the Monday after the US Thanksgiving holiday, when there is a significant increase in online shopping

'Marketers are also laying out longer and more specific schedules for the holiday shopping season, with work starting months earlier than in the past, and campaigns already poised to roll out on key shopping days, such as Cyber Monday – the first full work day after Thanksgiving, a major day for e-commerce …'

E-Commerce Times 6th October 2006

Christmas is fast approaching, and in the coming weeks, many of us will be doing a serious amount of shopping as we prepare for the festivities and try to get hold of those much-anticipated gifts for our kids, family and friends.

the sudden surge in online shopping on a particular Monday in November is so significant that it now has its own characterisation – Cyber Monday

Of course, it's the 21st century, and the burden of Christmas preparation is now eased by being able to shop online and make those all-important purchases from the comfort of our own homes, or possibly at our desks during the office lunch hour. In the United States, the sudden surge in online shopping activity on a particular Monday in November is so significant that it now has its own characterisation – Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday is the Monday that follows the US Thanksgiving holiday, which is usually the fourth Thursday in November. The weekend following Thanksgiving is conventionally viewed as the start of the holiday season, with a record number of people taking to the streets to get their Christmas shopping underway. Back at work on the Monday, it seems that people have a tendency to continue shopping, in cyberspace, resulting in a sudden surge in online purchases – hence Cyber Monday, which in 2006 falls on 27th November.

Although Cyber Monday is a day when a significant increase in Internet-based purchasing occurs, evidence suggests that it is not, in fact, the busiest online shopping day of the year. In 2005, the busiest online shopping day in the US was actually 12th December, two weeks after Cyber Monday.

Background – Cyber Monday

The expression Cyber Monday was coined in November 2005 by the US National Retail Federation. The term was based on research revealing that, in 2004, 77% of online retailers reported a significant increase in sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Cyber Monday was inspired by an earlier term, Black Friday, coined in the mid-1980s to refer to the Friday immediately after US Thanksgiving Day. This is historically one of the busiest shopping days of the year, with retailers opening earlier than usual and offering discounts in order to entice customers into even more purchases. The use of the word black in the expression is thought to relate to the idea of business accountants conventionally recording profits in black ink (and losses in red).

Like Cyber Monday, although Black Friday is a particularly busy day for consumer traffic through bricks-and-mortar retail outlets – i.e. actual shops and department stores – it does not represent the day with the highest sales volume, which usually falls on Christmas Eve or the last Saturday before Christmas.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 17th November 2006.

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