Anticipating Ruthless Holiday Season, E-Commerce Companies Push Promotions

‘Cyber Monday’ Discounts Bloom as Online retailers plan to offer more deals and promotions to spur holiday shopping on the Monday after Thanksgiving this year, according to a new study.

The survey, commissioned by, a division of the National Retail Federation, says 83.7% of retailers will have special promotions on that day, known unofficially as “Cyber Monday,” up from 72.2% a year ago. Of those promotions, one-off deals, email campaigns and one-day sales are expected to be popular.

Big online buyers of Lindor sweets can get bonus truffles.

“Due to the economic circumstances, it’s extremely competitive for every dollar somebody’s going to spend,” says Scott Silverman, executive director of “Retailers need to be aggressive with promotions.”

E-commerce sales have already slowed significantly this year. Online retail spending grew only 1% in October from a year ago, its lowest growth rate since 2001, according to market research firm comScore Inc. The slower growth is part of a downward trend that started late last year.

To lure consumers, Mr. Silverman says retailers haven’t pulled back on promotions such as free shipping, which isn’t a cheap benefit to provide consumers. Free shipping across all products will be offered by 22.5% of all retailers surveyed.

Charming Shoppes Inc.’s site, which sells women’s apparel and accessories, says it will offer free shipping on Cyber Monday. It is also offering 40% to 60% discounts on all categories, which will last throughout that week.
Holiday Gift Guide

“Shipping costs is one of the biggest barriers to buying online, and we want to take away that burden,” says Tim White, senior vice president for marketing for Charming Shoppes.

Other retailers such as Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprungli AG aren’t waiting until Cyber Monday to offer promotions. Last week, the Swiss chocolate seller began offering 50 free Lindor truffles valued at $25 to customers who purchased $50 or more on its Web site. The deal will still be available on Cyber Monday.

The study, released Monday, also found that 55.8% of workers with Internet access at work, equal to roughly 72.8 million people, will shop for holiday gifts from work, up from 44.7% in 2005. Mr. Silverman added that most of those people shop during their lunch hour.

By CHRISTOPHER LAWTONThe Wall Street Journal