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December 4, 2013

Cyber Monday sales reach record as shoppers snub stores for Web

SAN FRANCISCO — Online shopping surged about 20 percent to a record on Cyber Monday as many consumers snubbed physical stores and took to the Web to buy holiday gifts.

Including shopping on personal computers and mobile devices, Internet retail sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving rose to almost $2 billion, according to researcher ComScore Inc. That made it the heaviest Web-spending day ever for the fourth straight year. More than $23.9 billion has been spent on the Web through PCs alone since Nov. 1, an 8.4 percent gain from the same period in 2012, the company said Tuesday in a statement.

Cyber Monday marked a bright spot in a holiday shopping season that so far has lacked luster, including the first spending decline for a Black Friday weekend since 2009. While e- commerce is projected to make up only about 14 percent of total retail sales in November and December, companies such as Amazon.com Inc. and EBay Inc. are luring customers with the promise of daily deals, fast shipping and the ease of leaving the minivan in the driveway. They're also catering to consumers who are browsing products from tablets and smartphones.

"The discounts are strong, and Amazon has gained share as it typically does," ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said in an interview on CNBC. "Their growth rates are well ahead of the overall market."

Businesses across the retail industry showed increased sales on Cyber Monday. Visa Inc., the world's biggest bank-card network, said U.S. cardholders spent $7.8 billion from Thanksgiving through Dec. 2, a 30 percent increase from a year earlier. On Cyber Monday, Visa customers spent $2.6 billion, up 28 percent and the most of any day during the five-day span.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said Dec. 2 was its biggest-ever online spending day, and that Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday marked the company's highest five- day Web sales period to date. Top-selling items on Cyber Monday included an LG Electronics Inc. 50-inch television, Apple Inc.'s iPad 2 and a Fisher-Price Power Wheels truck.

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