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Mobile Shopping Drives Sales on Cyber Monday — But Most People Are Self-Gifting

Image: People walk through Macy's Herald Square store during early opening for Black Friday sales in Manhattan, New York

People walk through Macy's Herald Square store during early opening for Black Friday sales in Manhattan, New York, on Nov. 24, 2016. ANDREW KELLY / Reuters

"People don't even get out of bed — they pick up their phone." Welcome to the new Cyber Monday.

According to Adobe Digital Insights, Americans spent $540 million between midnight and 10 a.m. Eastern time Monday morning, $205 million of which were mobile purchases.

Target said that mobile shopping contributed more than 60 percent of its online sales, while Wal-Mart said in a release that 60 percent of its Black Friday event orders came from mobile.

This is a continuation of shopping patterns some key retailers noted over Black Friday.

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"I think we're finally there, where mobile is becoming a non-trivial driver of growth and market share," said Anindya Ghose, professor at New York University's Stern School of Business.

"Conversion rates, which used to be a bottleneck in the past, are no longer as much of an impediment," he said. This is for two reasons: Shoppers today are more comfortable shopping on their phones, and stores have invested in technology, like credit card image-capturing, that makes transactions more seamless.

Retailers are especially eager to capitalize on the growth of shopping via phones and tablets, said Benjamin Glaser, features editor at DealNews.com. "They're really trying to find ways to encourage and incentivize mobile shopping," he said.

Related: In-Store Pickup Could be Retail's Secret Weapon Against Amazon

"Stores are really pushing their apps, Amazon and Target are offering app-only deals — it's another way to make sure shoppers are in your ecosystem," he said.

Online shopping, whether via mobile or desktop, gives brick-and-mortar chains a chance to plug their physical stores, said Brendan Witcher, principal analyst covering e-business and channel strategy for Forrester Research. "More and more retailers are also using Cyber Monday as an opportunity to talk about in-store deals," he said.

Impulse Purchases

"One of the biggest things we've seen a trend of… is this idea of omnichannel shopping — buy online, pick up in-store," Witcher said. "Everyone's pushing it." The ones that succeed are likely to see an incremental bump in business, since between 30 percent and 40 percent of shoppers who order an item for in-store pickup buy more when they're there.

In total, Adobe forecasts that Cyber Monday sales will hit $3.36 billion before the day is out, a jump of more than 9 percent over last year.

"It's currently about 20 percent growth at this point relative to last year," said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst and director at Adobe Digital Insights, adding that this time block doesn't even include most West Coast shoppers.

Gaffney said this will probably drop as the day goes on: The proliferation of mobile advertising and shopping means Cyber Monday kicks off even before we get up. "We've been seeing early morning hours tending to grow faster," she said. "People don't even get out of bed — they pick up their phone."

According to a National Retail Federation survey, nearly four in 10 Cyber Monday shoppers said they plan to shop first thing in the morning, the most-preferred time of day. Just under a quarter said they plan to use their phones to shop.

"We're looking on a macro level at some positive economic indicators," Witcher said. "Unemployment is low, gas prices are cheap and online retails sales for the first three quarters of the year have grown faster," he said.

Gaffney said Adobe found that 62 percent of shoppers planned to make purchases today, up 10 percentage points from Black Friday. "That could be a positive indicator that there's still a lot of demand left," she said.

Self Gifting

A better economy could mean that people are more willing to spend on themselves. A survey by FatWallet.com found that about a quarter of shoppers plan to buy things for themselves today, an intention with a sharp gender divide: While only 20 percent of women said they plan to do some Cyber Monday shopping for themselves, 30 percent of men said the same.

Related: Who Spent the Most on Black Friday? You Might Be Surprised

"When we looked at various categories that would be more for yourself than someone else, they were rising," Gaffney said. In a consumer survey, Adobe found that while about two-thirds of people's intended spending was on gifts, nearly 20 percent has been earmarked for décor and parties, with the remaining 15 percent on gifts for themselves.

"If you need something and it's at a great price, you feel a little less bad buying for yourself," said Traci Gregorski, senior vice president of marketing at MarketTrack.

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