Black Friday shopping was down. Cyber Monday shopping was up. By now, plenty of pundits have pointed out the obvious: that the shift reflects the dominance of online, on-demand shopping over fighting crowds to get into brick and mortar stores. No surprise there.
This isn’t a condition, though, it’s a symptom of humanity’s desire for convenience. And that means you can expect Cyber Monday to change, too.
Black Friday became a big shopping day because of its convenience. Most Americans either had an off day or a very light work day on the Friday after Thanksgiving, which made a quick trip to the mall more convenient. In recent years (particularly the last decade or so), stores have highlighted the shopping experience – such as getting up early to get great deals. But the convenience of online shopping – which can be done anywhere and at any time – trumps the convenience of an off day.
The idea behind Cyber Monday comes from an antiquated shopping idea, too. Ten years ago, the fastest and most reliable connection most Americans has to the internet was from the desktop computer they used at work. Home internet was often dial-up or DSL, and the smartphone revolution was still a few years away. But as this infographic demonstrates, shoppers have followed the trends of residential and handheld internet. Smartphone and tablet users grew from 30% of all online shopping traffic in 2013 to 41% this year. Perhaps even more notable, the bulk of shopping took place in the late evening, after 9:00 p.m.
The popularity of the online option is unquestionable. But just as the idea of Black Friday capitalizes on the idea of shoppers being in a certain place at a certain time, so too does the idea of Cyber Monday. The next inevitable move is for shoppers to abandon the idea of Cyber Monday, except as a promotional gimmick.
In fact, this trend has already started. Many online retailers have dubbed this “cyber week,” a nod to the fact that shoppers have plenty of flexibility. Online shopping isn’t going anywhere and should continue to eclipse in-store sales, but don’t be surprised if the concept of “Cyber Monday” evaporates from pop culture long before “Black Friday.”