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For many, it's forget Black Friday pain for Cyber Monday gains

Published November 23, 2012 8:56 pm

Cyber Monday • From free shipping to less tripping, virtual holiday shopping on the rise.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

As a former sales associate for Kohl's, Lauren Holmgren has seen the dark side of Black Friday's shopping madness.

"I saw a man push a woman over the last 'Hannah Montana' acoustic guitar at 6 a.m.," she said. "I've seen the fistfights and the mom-shouting-matches, and I don't want to be a part of that."

So this weekend, you won't see the 21-year-old Salt Lake City student at any local store for her holiday shopping. She's going to be parked right in front of her laptop computer. The only physical exertion she'll endure is a few mouse clicks. She is all about shopping on Cyber Monday.

Black Friday is over, but get ready for holiday shopping's Round Two. Cyber Monday is the day when many online commerce sites will host big shopping deals. Some, such as Amazon.com, even started early, with sales running Friday through Monday. And even traditional retailers such as Sears are relying on mobile apps to fuel special deals.

"I have many friends who do the 'Black Friday Shuffle' ... but I much prefer the 'Cyber Monday sit-down,' " said Jane Driggs, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Utah. "Waiting until Cyber Monday might get you free shipping, [and] by being a bargain shopper you could get 25 percent off . . . and you didn't have to change out of your PJs."

Holmgren and Driggs are not alone. The National Retail Federation is projecting that online shopping will increase 12 percent this year over last, with $96 billion in sales from November to December.

And the trend toward online shopping for the holidays is growing. Nearly 30 percent more people shopped online during Cyber Monday in 2011 than those who went to brick-and-mortar businesses on Black Friday that same year, according to an IBM study. In 2011, online sales during Cyber Monday were up 33 percent over the year before, and the average amount spent per online order increased 2.6 percent. Online sales through mobile devices such as a phone or computer tablet also increased — up 4.3 percent — from the previous year.

"Putting on a coat and elbowing people at checkout lines — that's the old model of shopping," said Jonathan Johnson, president of Salt Lake City-based Overstock.com, the online retailer. "The new model is doing it on your couch and getting it done [online] and spending the rest of the holidays with your family. Over time, people are much more comfortable shopping online."

Johnson expects that his site will get more than 3.3 million visitors on Cyber Monday alone, the biggest day of sales for Overstock, which sells everything from bedding and housewares to electronics. "We expect it to be bigger this year than last year because of the great products and the sharp prices we have this year," he said.

But there may be another underlying reason why people are forgoing physical stores for virtual ones.

In an October survey commissioned by cloud and mobile testing provider SOASTA Inc., 51 percent of Americans said they will shop online because of the challenging economy.

Of those, 53 percent said they expect to shop online because they don't want to spend money on gas driving from store to store, 32 percent said it is easier to track their spending online to stay within a budget, and 31 percent said they believe the economy will "bring out the crazy" in people who shop at physical stores.

"It's not everyone," Holmgren said of crazy shoppers during her days as a sales associate at Kohl's. "But at least half of the people are there just to get their cheap gifts and screw everyone else."

vince@sltrib.com

Google+: +Vincent Horiuchi —

Online shopping tips

Internet fraud is the top complaint made with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection. Here are tips the division recommends online shoppers keep in mind to ensure a safe experience.

No cash • Don't send cash or wire money for payment. Pay by credit or charge card.

Compare prices • Items generally fall under a similar price range, so don't be enticed by scammers with ridiculously low prices.

Research the seller • Anyone can create a store online. Confirm the online seller's physical address and phone number in case you have any problems or questions.

Viruses • Keep your anti-virus software up to date to prevent possible online attacks while shopping.

Save your receipts • Print out all online transactions in case you need to return anything after the holidays.

Refund policy • Check whether you can return a product for a full refund. Review the site's cost of shipping on a returned item and if there is a "restocking" fee.

Reviews • Check out customer reviews for the site you're shopping and for the products you want to buy.

Coupons • Look for virtual coupons. Some are sent via email and others are available through codes that can be used while checking out. Search for sites that have those codes.

Smartphone • As shopping with a mobile device becomes more popular, make sure you download apps from legitimate sources and keep an eye on your phone bill to make sure there are no fraudulent charges.