Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Monday, Nov. 29, 2010 | 2:05 a.m.
Black Friday lines have long cleared from Las Vegas Valley storefronts, but true bargain hunters know another high holy shopping day is upon us: Cyber Monday.
The Monday after Thanksgiving marks one of the biggest shopping days of the year with millions logging online to grab deeply discounted gadgets and everyone’s favorite gift to lament — holiday sweaters. Best of all, there are no long lines, or even reasons to get off the couch.
Last year, consumers spent an estimated $887 million online during Cyber Monday, the second highest spending day of 2009, according to marketing research firm comScore. For the first three weeks of November, about $9 billion had been spent online -- a 13 percent increase compared to the same time last year, comScore reported last week.
The research firm expects online retail spending in November and December will reach $32.4 billion, an 11 percent gain from 2009.
Henderson-based online retailer Zappos.com has been gearing up during the past few weeks for the holiday rush. Since the website doesn’t offer discounts or coupons, Zappos hopes customer service will be the driver during big shopping days like Cyber Monday, said Aaron Magness, the company's senior director of brand marketing and business development.
“Cyber Monday does tend to be a big sales days for us, but not because of any specific deal or discount,” Magness said. “Everything really kicks into gear for us. It’ll continue to ramp up as you get deeper into December.”
Instead of discounts, Magness said a Zappos promotional offer will let customers become a "Zappos VIP," a service that allows them to receive free overnight shipping.
Everyone, including Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, will be manning the call center during the holidays. The call center is one of the first stops Zappos employees make in their training process so the company isn’t short-staffed for the busy holiday season.
“All employees, regardless of their position, are on the call center — all the way up to our CEO, CFO,” Magness said. “When you call in, you probably can’t request to talk to our CEO, but at any given time, you could be on the phone with him.”
When it comes to holiday gifts, Magness said standbys like Uggs, The North Face jackets and brand-name denim are some of the most frequently purchased items on Zappos.com.
Zappos is one of hundreds of retailers hoping for a Cyber Monday sales pop. According to Shop.org’s annual holiday survey, 88.2 percent retailers will have a special promotion for Cyber Monday, up from 72.2 percent in 2007.
Online-only retailers like Amazon.com are offering $2 MP3 downloads, discounts on the iPod Touch, and free PlayStations and 3-D starter kits with select Sony televisions.
Tablet computers and e-readers will be at the top of several Christmas lists this year and were among the top online searches ahead of Cyber Monday. Apple’s iPad isn't expected to be discounted, but Amazon is offering its Wi-Fi-enabled Kindle for $139. Barnes & Noble recently released the next generation of its Nook with a color touchscreen and the ability to surf the Web for $249.
If you’re a technology novice shopping for a gadget-savvy relative, don’t worry; tech blogs and review sites are full of recommendations.
Technology review website CNET says the Sony PlayStation 3 Slim, iPod Touch, Macbook Air and the latest generation of the Sony Cybershot will be hot items. Engadget’s gift guide lists pocket HD video cameras by brands like Flip and Kodak, netbooks and GPS systems as some of the top gifts to give.
For those wondering what not to give, digital photo frames topped Engadget’s list of least-wanted holiday gifts. If you already purchased one, the tech blog advises it's time to dig out the receipt and find another generic gift.
On the toy front, Barbies and video games still reign supreme with kids, but they do have strong competition from a few notable newcomers this year. According to the NRF’s annual toy survey, Dora the Explorer and "Toy Story" characters will be top contenders.
On ToysRUs.com’s top 20 searches, Legos top the list, followed by Nintendo DS, dollhouses, Pillow Pets and Toy Story characters.