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Why Every Day Is Cyber Monday Now

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The demands of mobile consumers are forcing retailers to promote early and often.

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It seems a little late to report on the outcome of Black Friday, or even Cyber Monday.

Sure, neither has happened yet, but that hasn't stopped anybody from speculating about what Americans will be doing before, during, and after Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Here are some of the most interesting insights from the latest batch of research.

Of course, they flatly contradict each other. Hopefully, we'll know who's right by Tuesday or so.

But one thing is clear from all of these analyses. There is no longer a Black Friday for shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, nor a Cyber Monday for shopping online, whatever the marketers would have us believe.

American consumers are looking for the best products and the best deals, and they'll search for them on foot, via desktop, or on their mobile devices, or they'll employ all of them at once if that's what it takes.

A Nielsen survey suggests that a little over half of all those who intend to shop on Black Friday will do so from the comfort of their homes.

Moreover, it appears that the mobile-oriented consumer is driving the pace. They want their special promotions and deals early and often, and they're getting them.

The move to mobile shopping is changing the way retail giants, including Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), do business, according to an analysis by Bloomberg News.

As they re-tool their promotions to match the behavior and expectations of the mobile consumer, the holiday promotions are coming earlier and more often, and are forming a sort of "bell curve" of holiday-related specials that starts earlier and ends later, the report concludes.

All very interesting, but what does it all add up to? Meaning, are we in for a good or bad year for consumer spending?

Consumers say they'll spend $1,260 on holiday shopping this year, an increase of $400 from last year, according to an online poll conducted for American Express (NYSE:AXP).

Poll respondents said they would use a "hybrid approach" to shopping, trawling for the best deals in real-world stores and on the Internet.

There is one striking statistic: 51% said they would use their mobile devices, whether to compare prices or complete transactions, compared to just 32% last year.

A darker view comes from research firm IbisWorld, which predicts a weak holiday spending season overall for Thanksgiving and beyond. The company cites stagnant disposable incomes and a loss of confidence in the economy, brought on by the government shutdown.

IbisWorld predicts an overall spending increase through the holiday weekend, online and in stores, of only 2.2%. This is despite double-digit growth in online sales on Cyber Monday. Clearly, it expects consumers to be home hunting-and-pecking for Internet bargains, not out and about in real-world stores.

The growth of mobile commerce must be the reason why audience-measurement company ComScore is now breaking out figures for "desktop ecommerce" and mobile sales as separate digital channels.

Its forecast is fairly upbeat for both, and since it starts measuring holiday season sales at the start of November, it has numbers to back it up. Desktop holiday spending rose 14%, to nearly $19 billion, in the first 24 days of November, according to its research.

Its forecast for the season through the end of December for desktop sales is now 14%, for a total over $48 billion. That would match the 2012 growth rate. Mobile sales are expected to account for 13% of total digital sales.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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