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Judging by my email inbox, it's been Cyber Monday all week long. Still, the results are in, and Monday's actual online retail push definitely made its mark on the calendar. Online deals managed to sway many American consumers, who collectively spared their shoeleather and shelled out just more than $1 billion in the most successful online shopping day in history.
The Associated Press cited comScore data, which said that sales rose 16% on Cyber Monday, the Internet's follow-up to Black Friday. (We don't have statistics on how badly productivity took a hit as employees nationwide surreptitiously surfed for deals.)
I'm willing to bet that Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) had a pretty great Monday, and I suspect that free shipping offers from Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) , Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) , and Target (NYSE: TGT ) coaxed further money out of shoppers.
But I'm less certain about how other Internet retailers like Overstock.com and Blue Nile might have fared, with so many e-commerce transactions taking place. We also don't yet know whether Cyber Monday deals helped bricks-and-mortar retailers attract clicks to make up for flagging foot traffic. My own inbox has been inundated with come-on emails from J. Crew (NYSE: JCG ) , Limited's (NYSE: LTD ) Victoria's Secret, Borders (NYSE: BGP ) , and Barnes & Noble, just to name a few. Clearly, retailers across the spectrum are angling for a piece of the action.
Cyber Monday's success doesn't necessarily indicate an easy holiday shopping season for the retail space. Black Friday and Cyber Monday both rely on doorbusting deals to drive consumers' spending. Shoppers' enthusiasm for deep discounts up front doesn't mean they won't still play chicken with retailers for price cuts later. Investors also know that such price-slashing may drum up sales volume, but pinch profit margins big time.
Personally, I still believe the holiday season will be a difficult, promotional environment for retailers on the whole, since so many American consumers feel a lot less flush these days. What do you think? Do you see a cheerful holiday selling season, or a dismal, Grinchy, price-cutting climate? Let us know in the comment box below.