The history and evolution of Cyber Monday

It’s that time of year again: holiday shopping season.

The history and evolution of Cyber Monday
Source: Pexels/Karolina Grabowska

It’s that time of year again: holiday shopping season. The upcoming weeks may be no different for those of us who rely on retail therapy to get through the whole year, but at least now, everyone else is drowning their sorrows with the help of their credit cards, too.

While Black Friday just passed, we’re now gearing up for Cyber Monday. In case you’re not in the know, Cyber Monday is when a ton of online retailers have big sales the Monday following US Thanksgiving. It’s a relatively new concept, but it has totally swept the globe.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) in the US coined the term “Cyber Monday” in 2005. Even before then, online shopping was already a major phenomenon. But Black Friday didn’t really apply to the e-commerce experience. As Katherine Cullen, the NRF’s senior director of industry and consumer insights, explains: “With the growth of online shopping, online-only players like Amazon were looking for a way to capitalize on Thanksgiving weekend sales. The Monday after Thanksgiving became dedicated to online sales, differentiating it from Black Friday.”

So, November 2005 marked the first official Cyber Monday. The NRF coined the term after noticing a regular spike in online sales and traffic on the Monday following Thanksgiving. But why did this spike occur? Well, the NRF theorized that people were shopping from their computers at work after returning from the Thanksgiving holiday. At their offices, people were more likely to have better internet access and service. Remember, this was the early 2000s.

After The New York Times reported on this NRF announcement in 2005, online income reached almost half a billion dollars, a 26% increase from the year before. As the years passed, more and more regular consumers began to recognize the “holiday,” and Black Friday-like sales and deals from retailers became more commonplace. In 2014, Cyber Monday became the biggest online shopping day in the US, with over US$2 billion in total sales. Every year, that number continues to grow, and now Cyber Monday is one of the biggest shopping days online around the world.