updated - August 28, 2014 Thursday EDT
About 122 million Americans will shop online on Cyber Monday, according to Shop.org. That's only slightly less than the 147 million who shop in brick-and-mortar stores over the three-day Black Friday weekend.
Americans spent about $1.25 billion on Cyber Monday last year, and experts expect similar sales for 2012. But this season, Cyber Monday is more of a sale concept than a precise day.
Toys R Us, Wal-Mart and Sears all got a head start on the big shopping weekend by opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. That's even earlier than last year, when the toy retailer kicked things off at 9 p.m. and Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, opened at 10 p.m. Sears opened at 4 a.m. last year.
Black Friday traditionally marks the start of the holiday shopping season. Stores consider it to be the most important time of the year because they can make up to 40% of their annual sales in the November-December period.
"We're making this a holiday to remember with our biggest savings ever for Cyber Monday, expanded free shipping to home on more electronics and toys than ever before, and the option to pay cash for online gifts," said Joel Anderson, President & CEO of Walmart.com. "Plus, we're adding new online, mobile and social options that give Walmart customers who 'get connected' early, exclusive access to the best deals."
The sales will begin Saturday, November 24 and run through December 2nd. Shoppers can purchase items online and have them shipped to their local store for free pickup. For those purchasing certain select items and items purchased for more than $45, you can have your Cyber Monday deals shipped directly to your home with free shipping.
TheBlackFriday.com for a list of all Cyber Monday-related sales.
More than 1,000 retailers are offering free shipping on products guaranteed to arrive before Christmas. To find out who is offering free shipping on Cyber Monday, go to CyberMonday.com.
Mobile devices have become increasingly important during that week before Cyber Monday. The number of consumers using their mobile device to make a purchase on Thanksgiving this year increased 66% from 2011, IBM data show.
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