For the aver­age retailer, Cyber Mon­day is the biggest online sales day of the year, with rev­enues three times greater than a nor­mal day. Ear­lier this week, nearly $2 bil­lion was spent online on Cyber Mon­day, a new record, accord­ing to an analy­sis by the Adobe Dig­i­tal Index. But as it turns out, Cyber Mon­day is not the biggest online sales day for every­body. In fact, big-box brick-and-mortar stores tend to expe­ri­ence higher online sales on Black Fri­day than on Cyber Mon­day. So why do these mer­chants per­form bet­ter online on the day when every­body is crammed into the store at 5 AM than on the day when peo­ple are sup­posed to be at home shop­ping from the com­fort of their own com­puter? The answer is sim­ple: showrooming.

Show­room­ing is that oh-so-common phe­nom­e­non when cus­tomers visit a brick-and-mortar store to scope out mer­chan­dise in per­son only to make their pur­chase online, some­times from a dif­fer­ent retailer. Fueled by the growth of high-speed mobile inter­net con­nec­tions, show­room­ing is becom­ing increas­ingly pop­u­lar. And while this has been cause for con­cern for many tra­di­tional retail­ers, some retail­ers have embraced the trend with open arms, adding QR codes to the labels of pop­u­lar prod­ucts, devel­op­ing mobile apps opti­mized for in-store shop­ping, and ensur­ing that the tran­si­tion from phys­i­cal shop­ping to vir­tual shop­ping is as seam­less as possible.

The rise of show­room­ing dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son raises an inter­est­ing ques­tion: Is it pos­si­ble that show­room­ing may one day become more pop­u­lar than Cyber Mon­day? Let’s look at the data.

This year a for­mi­da­ble num­ber of stores opened their doors on Thanks­giv­ing Day, buck­ing with tra­di­tion and not wait­ing until Black Fri­day to begin their sales. This pushed an increas­ing num­ber of con­sumers to shop ear­lier than they would nor­mally, essen­tially mak­ing Black Fri­day a two-day event. But do more peo­ple hit­ting the stores on Thanks­giv­ing Day also increase the num­ber of online sales? You betcha.

This year, one out of every four dol­lars spent online on Black Fri­day came from a mobile device, mak­ing Black Fri­day the biggest mobile shop­ping day of the year. Con­sumers not only used their mobile devices to com­pare prod­uct prices but also to shop while pass­ing the time wait­ing in lines. Online sales at big-box retail­ers on Thanks­giv­ing Day this year were 48% higher than Thanks­giv­ing sales last year, while sales on Cyber Mon­day were only 13% higher. In fact, Thanks­giv­ing Day has so far seen the high­est year-over-year growth in online shop­ping for these merchants.

This trend is already caus­ing some to pre­dict the end of Cyber Mon­day as we know it; whether that will actu­ally hap­pen is yet to be deter­mined. At the same time, this year’s Cyber Mon­day set a new record for online sales in a sin­gle day ($1.98 bil­lion) and was the pin­na­cle of the sea­son for all online retail­ers except big-box stores. What’s more, as brick-and-mortar stores become increas­ingly packed (and dan­ger­ous) on Thanks­giv­ing week­end, more peo­ple are happy to stay at home, avoid the crowds, and on shop online.

So what do you think? Will Cyber Mon­day retain its dom­i­nant posi­tion as the biggest online shop­ping day of the year, or will show­room­ing and ear­lier Thanks­giv­ing sales ulti­mately turn it into just another Monday?

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