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Shoppers snap up Cyber Monday deals

NEW YORK — Shoppers seem to be just as enthusiastic about shopping on their computers and smartphones on Cyber Monday as they were about finding deals over the Black Friday weekend.

Online sales on Cyber Monday, which was started in 2005 by a retail trade group to encourage Americans to shop online the Monday after Thanksgiving, were up early afternoon by 20 percent from a year ago, according to data from IBM Benchmark. At department stores, online sales were up 39 percent, while they were up 24 percent at apparel stores. Meanwhile, sales from mobile devices were up 8.5 percent. The group did not give dollar amounts

The strong start for Cyber Monday, created by a unit of The National Retail Federation, comes after more people than ever turned out during the kickoff to the holiday shopping season over the weekend. A record 226 million shoppers visited stores and websites during the four-day holiday weekend starting on Thanksgiving Day, up from 212 million last year, according to the NRF. And sales on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, rose 7 percent to $11.4 billion, the largest amount ever spent, according to ShopperTrak, which gathers stores’ data.

The numbers point to Americans’ growing comfort with using their personal computers, tablet computers and smartphones to shop and retailers’ efforts to capitalize on that. Over the years, big chains like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, have been offering earlier promotions, hourly deals and free shipping to get consumers to spend online on The Monday after Thanksgiving.

The moves have worked. Last year, Cyber Monday sales topped $1 billion for the first time, making it the heaviest day of online spending ever. During this week’s “Cyber Monday,” the NRF says nearly 80 percent of retailers plan to offer special promotions. And a record 122.9 million of Americans are expected to shop on the day, up from 106.9 million who shopped on “Cyber Monday” last year, according to a survey conducted for

Web traffic up 46 percent

By early afternoon on Monday, traffic was up about 46 percent year-over-year at noon, according to Akamai, a firm that tracks Web traffic said. Traffic has been up substantially since the Monday before Thanksgiving as retailers promoted online deals earlier than ever, says Lelah Manz, chief strategist of commerce,

“There has been a huge volume of promotional activity being driven by daily deal sites, Facebook and other social networking sites,” she says. “The season started much earlier, there has been a huge volume of promotional activity being driven by daily deal sites, Facebook and other social networking sites.”

Jamie Minoso is among those who shopped online on Monday. She stayed in on the busy shopping day after “Black Friday,” but hit websites on Monday to check out the deals on toys, electronics and pet products online.

“I do not enjoy the traffic and chaos involved in shopping at a mall,” she says. “So, if I can get what I am looking for sent to my door for free, I will always take that option.”

The sales promotions on the Monday after Thanksgiving got the name “Cyber Monday” from a retail trade group, which promoted the idea that people, upon returning to work, would log onto their computers there and shop.