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Analysts Expect Cyber Monday To Set Sales Records

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Today's the day you realize you actually need that $350 robotic vacuum. I mean, it's usually 500 bucks, so it's basically free. Cyber Monday is upon us, and it can send you down Internet rabbit holes. NPR's Alina Selyukh is here to talk to us about it.

Hey, Alina.

ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: Happy Cyber Monday.

SELYUKH: Happy Cyber Monday.

MARTIN: It's an American holiday, after all. So there's always a lot of hype around this day. How significant is it though, really, to companies' bottom lines? I mean, how much is riding on this one day?

SELYUKH: So this one day comes in a package of about five days of shopping. Thanksgiving weekend is huge for that. So it sort of wraps up this really major weekend that kicks off the holiday shopping season. And for this particular Sunday - Cyber Monday, we are looking at a record-setting shopping spree. Put together, Americans are expected to spend more than $6 billion.

MARTIN: That's a lot of money.

SELYUKH: At least, that's the number being forecast by Adobe Analytics.

MARTIN: A lot of money - so we hear all the time about how brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to keep up these days, but a lot of these chains, I understand, are promoting deals for online shoppers. Are they competitive in this space?

SELYUKH: So the difference is how we're shopping, as you're pointing out. So for now, many retail stores are still making most of their money from folks who actually come by and browse in person.

MARTIN: Wow.

SELYUKH: And for that kind of activity, Black Friday's still one of the most popular days of the year to do that. So even though we're definitely not seeing the scenes from the '90s with, you know, people elbowing each other, not...

MARTIN: Right - for an Elmo doll or whatever.

SELYUKH: ...Or rushing for that sweet TV deal, millions of people...

MARTIN: That's really - the best of humanity, really.

SELYUKH: But millions of people are still shopping in person over the Thanksgiving weekend. That being said, online shopping is obviously not going anywhere. It's still a small fraction of all retail sales, but Amazon looms so large over all the purchases today for Cyber Monday. And in fact, the enthusiasm for the weekend made Amazon's CEO on Friday the first man since the '90s to be worth more than $100 billion.

MARTIN: Wow. So let's get real, Alina. I need to know where the best deals are today. And what are they?

SELYUKH: So Adobe Analytics says today is the day to get deals on toys.

MARTIN: Toys.

SELYUKH: That's always a popular item. Electronics are big, like gaming consoles, laptops. This year's really the year of the smart home speaker. So Amazon Echo, Google Home - they're on sale in various stores. Then, of course, there are TVs, the staple of the Thanksgiving weekend shopping. Specifically, this year, as in recent years, 4K televisions that have super high resolution are being promoted specifically for video games and streaming, although their benefits are still being debated by gadget reviewers.

MARTIN: All right, so we have to mention, though, we live in a time of cyber threats and those kinds of fears. I mean, there are scammers out there, right? What - do you have any tips for shoppers in this online season?

SELYUKH: Yeah. I mean, whenever there is big money being spent online in one day, there are elements that people should watch out for for potential scams. So one of the things is, be careful where you shop. Avoid public Wi-Fi if you can. Try to use your credit card versus a debit card. Credit card charges can be disputed a little easier. Be careful, especially, clicking on links inside your email. Hover over them, maybe see if there's little typos in the name of the website. That's usually a red flag.

MARTIN: Oh, that's a good tip.

SELYUKH: And of course, the big one is, check your credit card statement later on.

MARTIN: Oh, yeah, that - forgot to do that, yup.

SELYUKH: (Laughter) Good luck with that.

MARTIN: NPR's Alina Selyukh - thanks, Alina.

SELYUKH: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SIZZLEBIRD'S "PIXELS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.