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Is Cyber Monday Losing Its Luster?

After years of double-digit increases, Cyber Monday sales growth slowed this year as online retailers offered earlier discounts.

A few years ago, Black Friday begat "Gray Thursday" — a.k.a. Thanksgiving Day, with discounted shopping — before retailers stretched it into what has now become a full week of deals. While extending the window on mega-sales watered down sales volume on Friday by about 11.3 percent, it seems that sales for Cyber Monday are still growing, albeit more slowly than in previous years.

According to numbers released Tuesday morning by IBM, online sales on Monday grew 8.5 percent relative to 2013, maintaining its position as the heaviest e-commerce day of the season. Yet, that's much slower growth than the 20.6 percent boost retailers saw between 2012 and 2013. That's because Cyber Monday, too, has morphed into Cyber Week, reducing the necessity of shopping on the day itself. Increasingly, it's not about comparing Mondays to Mondays to see how retailers have fared, but about looking at the holiday season overall. 

What is growing, however, is shoppers' predilection for placing orders on mobile devices. Traffic from smartphones and tablets grew 30.1 percent compared to last year, representing 41.2 percent of all online traffic to retail sites on Monday. That's a slight dropoff from the weekend's ratio of mobile to desktop traffic — the former won out at 52.1 percent — which you could probably chalk up to the fact that a) people use their phones when they're out and about in stores and b) they're at work on Monday, so they're probably shopping on the down-low on their computers.

Desktop buys also accounted for 78 percent of sales, with tablets generating 12.9 percent and phones 9.1 percent, respectively. So clearly smartphones aren't the optimal place to buy, but people do love window shopping on them. Whoever manages to connect those two experiences properly is going to make bank.

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