MINNEAPOLIS -- Cyber Monday spending was expected to hit a record $3 billion, making it not just the biggest e-commerce day of the year, but the largest online sales day ever.
It caps what has been a banner year for online sales, including an increase of 14 percent spent online on Black Friday, according to Adobe Systems, which tracks purchases on more than 4,000 domestic sites.
Retail chains are trying to adjust to more people shopping online for the holidays. Wal-Mart, for example, put 96 percent of its Black Friday deals online. "It is clear that the age-old holiday tradition of heading out to stores with family and friends is now equally matched in the new tradition of looking online for holiday savings opportunities," said Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation.
The shift to online sales caught Target off guard as online customers were placed in brief holding queues Monday starting about 10 a.m. Eastern time. The issues were resolved by 11:30 a.m. The Minneapolis-based retailer saw a record-breaking response to its first-ever site-wide 15 percent off promotion paired with free shipping. By noon, the volume on the site was already twice as high as its busiest day before Cyber Monday, said Target spokeswoman Jamie Bastian.
The discounter had previously experienced traffic overloads and site crashes on days when the company offered limited release of designer collections from Missoni and Lilly Pulitzer. Earlier this year, the company increased its mobile app's capacity sevenfold to handle growing demand.
Online sales account for about 3 percent of Target's $73 billion in annual sales. Target shares were down 1.5 percent in morning trading.
Also Monday, some Internet users noted problems with the online payment company PayPal.
Despite record breaking online sales from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, consumers have grown to expect a longer stretch of bargains. Many retailers began promoting pre-Black Friday specials in early November. Cyber Monday now extends into Cyber Week specials at many retailers.
During the Thanksgiving Day weekend, more people shopped online than in bricks and mortar store. Black Friday sales online jumped 14 percent from 2014. More than half of the Black Friday shopping came from mobile devices, Adobe reported.
Brick and mortar sales on Thanksgiving were $1.8 billion and Black Friday. Both days were down slightly compared to 2014, according to ShopperTrak. But bricks and mortar still contribute much higher overall sales than online. Still, overall holiday spending is expected to increase about 4 percent this season.