Businesses look to cash in on Cyber Monday

PITTSFIELD -- The holiday shopping season turned digital on Monday when Berkshire residents and businesses participated in Cyber Monday -- one of the busiest online shopping days of the year.

According to the National Retail Federation, 129.2 million Americans were expected to access retailers' websites on Monday, up from the 122.8 million who participated last year, and the 106.9 million who shopped in 2010.

Berkshire numbers were unavailable on Monday, but local businesses who sell online were expecting a significant increase.

"We do expect a bump," said Leslie Parsenios, the e-commerce manager and director of business development for Country Curtains in Lee. "It's a busy time of year for us."

To meet customer demand, 85 percent of national retailers were expected to have a special promotion for Cyber Monday, according to a survey that the National Retail Federation released last week.

Country Curtains participated in that trend, too.

"We're announcing a clearance event today," Parsenios said. "We're adding new items and discounts."

She said sales at Country Curtains on Cyber Monday could be 15 percent higher than last year.

"Cyber Monday has been good for us in the past," she added. "We decided to announce the clearance event today rather than another day because of that activity."

Ronnie's Cycles in Pitts field also hoped to see a significant sales bump.

"Normally, it's been one of the busiest days for us throughout the year," said Wendy Ouimet, the sales manager for Ronnie's mail order outlet in New Ashford.

But because Ronnie's is in the recreational business, Ouimet said she wasn't sure how its online sales would eventually pan out.

"It's because of the type of business we are," she said. "Recreational fun is not a necessity. People are struggling with the economy."

Cyber Monday comes after two other major holiday shopping events: Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. State law prohibited stores in Massachusetts from opening on Thanks giving itself this year, but that wasn't the case in many areas of the country.

"I don't think people are too burned out," said Stephen C. Sheppard, an economics professor at Williams College.

"The last couple of years have seen a 16 percent and 20 percent increase for Cyber Monday sales," he said. "There will probably be another increase. You're seeing more of the brick and mortar stores developing an integrated approach. On Friday I was in Best Buy, and I noticed that they were flagging a lot of things online."

Not everybody who participated in Black Friday was expected to purchase items from home. Although 88 percent (113.7 million people) were expected to use their home computers on Cyber Monday, 12.4 percent, or 16 million, were expected to shop from their computers at work, according to the National Retail Federation's survey.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:,
or (413) 496-6224.


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