Cyber Monday in full swing

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s another big day for holiday shopping. Cyber Monday is underway and just like Black Friday, sales and online discounts are getting started early.

The term Cyber Monday was first coined in 2005. That is when retailers noticed an uptick in web sales the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Analysts credit high-speed internet connections at home as well as smartphones with the increase in sales. Now, consumers shop anytime and anywhere.

“These days every day is Cyber Monday because online retail has absolutely taken off, and that is where the growth is for the retail industry. So, they are very focused on it,” said Regina Lewis, USA Today contributor.

For those who couldn’t wait to spend money, both Wal-Mart and Target launched their Cyber Monday shopping blitz sales Sunday with deals that would match or beat the discounts they offered on Black Friday.

Captain Ken Criswell with the Niles Police Department said it’s important to watch where you surf for bargains- reputable and well-known businesses are best. He cautions against responding to suspicious emails and said consumers can be fooled with minor details.

“They may change one letter just to make it look like your bank or one of your major retailers,” Criswell said.

Criswell said if customers fall prey to online scams, it may be hard to get restitution. He said international companies often don’t rely to local subpoenas or financial inquiries.

“Even if you can identify a suspect, there is nothing we can do legally because it is just out of the pickup radius for extradition,” said Sgt. Jordan Yacovone, Austintown Township Police Department.

Another thing that makes cyber crime hard to manage is that it is usually found out weeks after the theft takes place. Customers get a bank statement from the previous month and realize something isn’t right.

Criswell said the first line of defense is the bank and then consumers should immediately contact all three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Trans Union and Equifax) and report the theft.

It’s too early for sales figures, but Monday is still expected to be the biggest online shopping day ever, likely racing up more than $3 billion in sales, according to comScore. Adobe, which tracks 200 million visitors to 4,500 retail websites, said $490 million had been spent online as of 10 a.m. E.T. on Monday, the latest data available. That’s 14 percent higher than a year ago.

“It’s no longer about one day, but a season of digital deals,” said Matthew Shay, president of retail trade group The National Retail Federation.

That seems to have taken a toll on brick-and-mortar shopping. Frenzied crowds seemed to be a thing of the past on Black Friday – the busy shopping day after Thanksgiving – and sales fell to $10.4 billion this year, down from $11.6 billion in 2014, according to preliminary figures from research firm ShopperTrak.

“Consumers are recognizing the Internet is the place to go for a deal any time, any day,” said Gene Alvarez, managing vice president of research firm Gartner.

“I personally skip Black Friday just to shop Cyber Monday,” said Mark Flores, a parks and recreation director from Lynwood, California. But this year, he started online shopping on Black Friday, buying five pairs of Sorel and Uggs shoes for gifts and eight Chromecasts that were two for $50 instead of $35 off. He planned to shop on Cyber Monday too, but did not find compelling deals. “Nothing standing out so far,” he said midmorning on Monday.

Research firm comScore expects online sales to rise 14 percent to $70.06 billion During the November and December shopping period, slowing slightly from last year’s 15 percent rise. Online sales make up 10 percent of overall retail sales, but that increases to 15 percent during the holidays as online shoppers snap up Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, according to research firm Forrester.

The name “Cyber Monday” was coined in 2005 by the National Retail Federation’s online arm, called Shop.org, to encourage people to shop online. The name was also a nod to online shopping being done at work where faster connections made it easier to browse. Now, even with broadband access, Cyber Monday continues to be a day when retailers pull out big promotions.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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