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Cyber Monday and Other Retail Opportunities

Photo: Darren Hauck, Getty Images

According to CNN.com, Cyber Monday began with a Shop.org press release (and you thought it was dead!) issued five years ago. It claimed the Monday after Thanksgiving “is quickly becoming one of the biggest online shopping days of the year.”

Analysts say this isn’t true, with Mike Gikas, the Consumer Reports technology and electronics editor, telling CNN that online sales don’t cluster on any specific day. Ellen Davis, the VP of the National Retail Federation, which owns Shop.org and CyberMonday.com, says the term arose “organically.”

Whatever. ComScore says sales for the day could pass $900 million. Moreover, the online activity around the launch of the holiday shopping season is very real.

Mashable reports that Target had the most Foursquare check-ins on Black Friday, and the retailer purchased the #BlackFriday hashtag. Walmart and Best Buy came in second and third for check-ins. (Verizon has purchased the #CyberMonday hashtag.)

ComScore also reports that online spending was up nine percent this past Black Friday, even while overall Black Friday sales stayed flat. And PayPal says they saw a 310 percent increase in mobile sales that day.

For PR practitioners, this smells like opportunity. While some shoppers are still setting up camp outside stores for wee-hour doorbusters, many are migrating to the Web and their mobile devices to do their holiday shopping. And this might be a trend that carries through the year as the economy continues to improve (hopefully) and shopping isn’t restricted to certain occasions.

The next few weeks will likely offer some useful lessons on how to leverage digital tools for year-round retail – and PR – activity. The first lesson might come from Pepsi and Foursquare: check-in for loyalty rewards.

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