Cyber Monday was more popular than ever as consumers rushed to the Web for exclusive holiday shopping deals. Online traffic was up 43 percent from last year, says content delivery network Akamai, and online sales were up 15 percent over Cyber Monday 2010 as of 6 p.m. ET, says IBM Smarter Commerce, a Web performance analytics firm for 500 of the largest retail websites. Matt Shay, CEO of the National Retail Federation, says sales on Cyber Monday and over the long weekend show retailing is "providing a needed shot in the arm to our nascent recovery."
Electronics are the most popular items, with sales up 26 percent over last year, and products such as flat-screen TVs and digital cameras are leading the pack, says PriceGrabber. EBay's special on a white iPad 2 for $449 sold out in less than two hours, says Richelle Parham, chief marketing officer for eBay North America.
Even with all the online traffic, retailers appeared to pull off Cyber Monday without a glitch. Web performance expert Steve Tack says retailers have worked hard to avoid the website crashes and technical problems common in years past.
"The industry has done a pretty good job of getting a stable site that is better at dealing with the demands placed on it," says Tack, chief technology officer for website and applications performance at Web-tracking company Compuware Gomez. "People only have so much patience. If a site is not loading fast enough, they'll abandon it."
Sara Mannone, 39, of Denver was enticed by Lands' End's promise of 30 percent off everything and free shipping. She says she didn't encounter any problems with the retailer's site and was happy with its customer service.
Sears spent more than a year preparing for this holiday season's deluge of digital shoppers, says Michael Murray, chief marketing officer of online for Sears Holdings.
In addition to ramping up overall online capabilities, Sears also focused on making it easier for shoppers to buy via mobile devices. "We spent the last year really focusing (to make sure) our mobile experience was full and complete," he says. They focused on speed, features and functionality, he says.
Online luggage and handbag site eBags did early testing to make sure its site could handle traffic. It saw a record sales day, up 42.5 percent over last year, says co-founder Peter Cobb.
Home-goods retailer Wayfair.com said orders were on track to be up 30 percent from last year, and the average size of orders was up 7 percent, to $144.
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