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Cyber Monday isn't the biggest online shopping day of the holiday season, but indications are that the traditional kickoff of gift buying on the Web is looking strong.
ComScore Networks has predicted that online retailers would ring up $599 million in sales on the Monday following the Thanksgiving weekend, 24% more than recorded on that same day last year. ComScore is scheduled to release its final numbers for Cyber Monday on Wednesday.
The biggest online shopping days of the year are usually closer to mid-December. Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, is considered the kickoff of offline, or brick-and-mortar stores' holiday sales. On that day, online retailers sold $434 million in goods, up 42% from a year ago, according to ComScore. Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 24, total online spending reached $8.3 billion, a 23% increase from the same period last year.
Some sites reported high traffic on Cyber Monday this year. Microsoft said the number of visits to MSN Shopping rose 63% from last year. The company credited the traffic increase to an improved selection, better gift guides, a popular sales and deals page, and tighter integration with MSN and Live Search.
Offline sales during the first two days of the season, starting with Black Friday, were healthy. Retailers took in $8.96 billion, an increase of 6% from last year, according to ShopperTrak RCT. The momentum, however, didn't carry over to Saturday, when sales for the day fell 0.4% from a year ago to $5.7 billion. Still, both days combined reflected a 3.4% increase over the same period last year.
ShopperTrak expects sales to start to slow because shoppers have an extra weekend this year before Christmas. The Saturday before Christmas is expected to be the biggest shopping day of the year.
"Folks are going to procrastinate and take advantage of that extra weekend," ShopperTrak spokesman Aaron Martin said Tuesday.