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Retailers Prepare for Cyber Monday, But Change is in the Air

Friday, November 19th, 2010

By Jennifer L. Cherry, Vice President, Marx Layne

Retailers are already promoting deals for Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving and one of the 10 biggest online shopping days of the year. Researchers and retailers are projecting lifts in online sales that day versus 2009, when Americans spent a record $887 million and topped 2008′s prior peak for the day by 5%, according to comscore.com.

When the National Retail Federation’s Shop.org first dubbed this day Cyber Monday in 2005, most consumers didn’t have Internet broadband service at home, so the bulk of the shopping was done at work-where the speeds reigned supreme. Since then, in-home broadband has grown dramatically.

Yet more than half of last year’s Cyber Monday purchases still originated from work computers, according to comscore.com. Now comes the results of a new study by WPP Group’s Lightspeed Research for dealnews.com that 86% of those planning to shop that day would do so from their home computers, with only 13% doing it from work. That’s good news for employers and productivity.

But retailers may have some consumer educating to do, since a third of the 2,001 online respondents in that survey also have never heard of Cyber Monday. While dealnews.com reports people with annual earnings of more than $50,000 have the most awareness of the day, the third of the respondents still in the dark about it doesn’t fluctuate much among age groups or geography.

Researcher Forrester expects online retail sales during the entire holiday season to grow 16 percent in the U.S. compared to last year. The market researcher said consumers are showing a willingness to spend this season, with affluent consumers driving the most growth. Online retailers in the U.S. also expect their holiday sales to rise year-over-year, but are planning aggressive promotions throughout the season, highlighting Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Forrester says.

NPD Group noticed during last year’s bleak economy that retailers offered deals over two weeks, not just on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. That has resulted in what NPD’s chief analyst Marshall Cohen called the “graying of Black Friday” since there’s opportunities to get the same great deals on other days.

There’s new research that shows Americans are increasingly more willing to shop online for holiday gifts, rather than face the mobs of people who go to brick-and-mortar stores for one-day-only, deep discounts on Black Friday. A recent online poll of 800 prior Black Friday shoppers by Persuadable Research Corp. for dealnews.com found that only 46% of them plan to definitely shop on Black Friday this year, a 12% drop from last year. It’s not just the crowds and yes, sometimes rude fellow shoppers that is causing this shift, but consumers’ realization that they can find better and earlier deals online. Fifty-nine percent of the respondents said they’d rather shop online on Black Friday than in a store.

The Lost Children of Michigan

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

By Alan Upchurch

Recently, I watched with pride as my youngest child walked across the stage and received his high school diploma.  It was a special moment for me, my wife Patty, and our son Trevor.  Trevor was diagnosed with autism when he was about 4 years old.  There have been many obstacles along the way, but Trevor has defeated most of them and grown into a bright, engaging, happy young man.

On graduation day, I also thought a lot about his future.  Trevor always tells his Mom and I that he loves the state of Michigan and can’t imagine leaving.  But as Michigan struggles to rebound from years of economic calamity, I wonder if his best opportunities will come elsewhere.  My eldest daughter has already left the state.  She’s in California. Many of her friends are gone, too.  They’re working in Chicago, Atlanta and other cities around the country.  In the last 10 years Michigan has lost nearly 800,000 private sector jobs.  What frightens and angers me is the lack of outrage, and the lack of urgency from government and business leaders throughout the state. They talk a good game. But where is the action.  The candidates for governor are as unimpressive as I have seen in the past 30 years.  Have you heard any of your friends or neighbors talking about the great ideas and leadership skills of these candidates?   People are apathetic and one of the big reasons for their indifference is the uninspiring candidates.

We need a Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild war-torn Europe, because Michigan is losing one battle after another in this economic war.   And now we are losing our children to other states that are better prepared and, apparently, more willing to fight for their economic future.   Cool cities?  How about a cool jobs creation plan that will give young people like my son a reasonable chance at economic success in a state he loves so much.