Cyber Monday has become just as much a part of American culture as standing in the blistering cold with a bottle of pepper spray in hand outside of Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving waiting for that $2 waffle iron to go on sale. OK, all joking aside, Cyber Monday has definitely crept up the importance scale over the past few years and now represents the day with the most Internet sales of the year.
Based on U.S. data released yesterday, Cyber Monday sales totaled $1.251 billion, up 22% from the year-ago period. IBM Benchmark, another tracking platform, showed that sales rose by 33% from a year ago. Either way you look at, online sales appear strong for the most part, but we know full well that not everyone can be a winner.
Although no companies have thus far released any data on their Cyber Monday sales, I have a few guesses as to which stocks may have done well and which companies may have disappointed. Please remember these are just educated guesses as no hard data are in as of yet.
Department stores: Large-scale department stores JCPenney
(NYSE: JCP), Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN), and Macy's (NYSE: M)spared no expense this year to make the American public aware of their online deals. Macy's and JCPenney chose to harness the power of social media by debuting many of their specials this year on Facebook.
Electronics: I would call the fact that Best Buy
(NYSE: BBY)didn't fall flat on its face on Black Friday a resounding success -- so much so that I'm willing to bet it carried over into Monday. The margins on electronics aren't as robust as they have been in years past, but the volume of product moving is definitely making up for some of that. Though it has had to add free shipping to compete with Amazon.com, which will chew into margins, it's better to sell a lot of items with low margins than it is to not sell them at all.
Home improvement stores: This is the wild card of all my picks. All of the data recently have pointed to a resurgence in home remodels, which could point to strong sales of tools and home furnishings this holiday season. I'm going to be looking for good results from Home Depot
(NYSE: HD)if and when its Cyber Monday results are released.
Teen retailers: Rising material costs and a group of apathetic parents have really put a damper on the earnings results of teen retailers lately. Recent margin pressure isn't going to be resolved with just one day's worth of sales. Needless to say, I'm not too excited about Abercrombie & Fitch
(NYSE: ANF)or American Eagle Outfitters' results from Cyber Monday.
Jewelry stores: Tiffany
(NYSE: TIF)followed in Blue Nile's footsteps yesterday by warning that its fourth-quarter results will not live up to consensus expectations. As a luxury item, jewelry margins are being crushed by rising metal, labor, and diamond costs, and it's unlikely that one day of sales will change that.
There you have it, folks -- my predictions as to where the Cyber Monday dollars went. It could be a few more weeks before we know for sure who the winners and losers are, but there have been some tell-tale signs recently that have helped me make some educated guesses.
Did you do any shopping on Cyber Monday and, if so, what'd you buy? Feel free to share your haul and your opinion on my guesses in the comments section below.
To see how these companies fare when the news breaks about where dollars ended up, please add them to My Watchlist by clicking the links below. My Watchlist is a free service offered by The Motley Fool to keep you current on your favorite stocks.
Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. This marked the first year he actually participated in Cyber Monday. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong , track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
The Motley Fool owns shares of Best Buy. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Home Depot and Blue Nile, as well as writing covered calls in Best Buy. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that doesn't need a Magic 8-Ball to give you the correct answer.