Finally! Here’s How Cyber Monday Even Became a Thing

There’s a reason shoppers started doing more online shopping before Boxing Day, but it had nothing to do with sales.

Woman shopping on Cyber MondayPhoto: Shutterstock

The Fascinating History of Cyber Monday

Black Friday shoppers have gone home with their discounted loot, even though we now know some Black Friday deals aren’t as good as they seem. Next up: Cyber Monday. Canadian spending on Cyber Monday increased by 14 per cent in 2015, making it the one of the biggest e-commerce sales day in the Great White North. But how did such a “holiday” come to be?

Thank Ellen Davis, senior vice president of research and strategic initiatives for the Washington-based National Retail Federation (NRF), who coined the term in 2005. For several years in a row, the NRF had noticed a recurring spike in online revenue and traffic on the Monday following American Thanksgiving. They believed it was because people were making purchases from their computers at work, where the Internet connections were faster and their kids couldn’t get a sneak peek at their gifts. (Here are the top 10 do’s and don’t’s of Christmas shopping.)

The group issued a press release a few days before American Thanksgiving, 2005, where they debuted the term “Cyber Monday.” According to the press release, 77 per cent of online retailers had seen their sales “increase substantially” on Cyber Monday the previous year and by NRF calculations could expect the trend to continue. Davis had considered calling the new online shopping holiday Black Monday, after Black Friday, or Blue Monday, after blue hyperlinks. But the former also refers to the day world stock markets crashed, and the latter sounded too depressing.

Long story short, the NRF was right. The New York Times report used the new term, and publicity about Cyber Monday spread. That Monday, online sales in the United States reached almost a half-billion dollars, a 26 per cent increase from the previous year. Year after year, Cyber Monday became more recognized, shoppers bought into more of its deals and discounts, but it didn’t quite live up to the promise of “Biggest Online Shopping Day of the Year.” In time, companies that track online spending began to argue that it was primarily a marketing gimmick and wouldn’t break any records, as digital promotions rarely fell on the same day. (Keep these eight simple tips for safe online shopping in mind.)

But in 2014, that all changed. That year Cyber Monday became the biggest online shopping day in America, raking in over $2 billion in sales. And each year since, the bar has been raised, with Forbes calling last year’s holiday “the biggest day in the history of U.S. e-commerce.”

So, has it lived up to the promise of “biggest online shopping day in the world?” Not quite yet. That honour goes to Single’s Day in China, when shoppers have actually spent up to $14.3 billion in 24 hours!

Check out 4 Ways to Give Truly Meaningful Gifts, According to Science!

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest