Online holiday shopping is expected to break records this year. Already, big retailers like Walmart and Target have released previews of their online deals. But rather than waiting until Cyber Monday, many of the deals will launch early Thanksgiving morning, hours before the turkey is due into the oven.
Americans will spend an average of $419 online this holiday season, a leap of 12 percent over last year, according to Forrester research. But spending is only half of the equation.
Online shoppers also save money in a variety of ways. "On Cyber Monday, Americans will log on to take advantage of Internet-only discounts and offers like free shipping,” Nicholas Delgado, a financial planner and author of "Top 10 Consumer Savings Now," said in a statement. His report was released today (Nov. 16) by the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA), a Washington D.C., bi-partisan advocate for accessible broadband.
Free shipping has been a top draw for online shoppers: 57 percent of U.S. adults who buy online will shop more with retailers that offer free shipping, IIA said. Each year, hundreds of retailers participate in Free Shipping Day, timed to fall on the last day for regular UPS delivery, which is December 17 this year.
Along with free shipping, Internet shoppers also save because they can easily compare prices, choose from a much wider selection of similar items than is available at local stores, snatch up online-only discounts and save gas by shopping from home, IIA said.
[READ MORE: 4 New Tools for Black Friday Shoppers ]
While shopping online may be particularly appealing over the holidays, the IIA's report shows that consumers save year round by using the Internet for everything from bill payments to basic groceries. In 2011, Internet-connected Americans saved an average of $8,870 by shopping online.
However, holiday deals can turn well-intentioned shoppers into impulse buyers. "As with any spending, self-discipline is important," Jamal Simmons, IIA co-chair, said. "With a little restraint, high-speed Internet can be a great tool for sticking to a budget."