NAPLES — Let your fingers do the walking.
That’s what online retailers asked shoppers to do Monday, as the industry kicked off one of the busiest online times of the year.
Retail Web sites continued to amp up the deals Monday — traditionally referred to as Cyber Monday — in hopes of maintaining the long weekend’s strong online sales.
Experts expected more than 96 million shoppers would hit the Internet throughout the day Monday to score some cyber deals. That’s expected to be up from 85 million shoppers in 2008, said Larry Joseloff, vice president of content for Shop.org, the digital division of the National Retail Federation. “So far our traffic has been up this year over last year,” Joseloff said.
Coremetrics, a Web analytics company in San Mateo, Calif., said that as of 1 p.m. Monday, sales for the day that the industry still pitches as Cyber Monday were up 19.6 percent over a year ago.
“We’re definitely busy,” said Grace Chang, a spokeswoman for online retailer Amazon.com. “Cyber Monday is one of the busiest days of the year for us.”
Internet shopping accounts for about 10 percent of holiday shopping, but experts say it’s seen the most growth so far this year. That’s an encouraging sign, after last year’s first online sales decline.
The rise in Internet shopping may be the convenience of it all, said Joseloff.
“It’s become a part of our online holiday shopping culture,” Joseloff said. “When you look at Black Friday, it’s a wonderful, wonderful experience, but there’s some inconvenience. Online shopping has a huge convenience factor.”
Those convenience include easy comparison shopping, no lines and presents delivered to your door.
Chang said Amazon on Monday had deals on navigational systems, toys, clothing and accessories. The popular Web site also touted a discounted Apple iPod Touch 8GB for $158, $20 less than Sunday and $40 off the retail price of about $200.
Deeply discounted electronics such as flat-screen TVs, game systems and netbooks were popular, but more practical items such as appliances and home decor were also big sellers.
Many shoppers were also able to snatch up online deals ahead of time, as retailers stretched online deals over several days.
Target, Walmart, Amazon.com and other retailers started offering the online equivalent of Black Friday specials on Thanksgiving or even earlier.
“The holiday spread itself out,” said Marshall Cohen, chief industry analyst at market research firm NPD Group. “On Thanksgiving Day, there’s a new tradition, shopping online before you stuff the turkey, putting the turkey in oven and going out shopping.”
That’s good news for local experts. Mike Reagen, president and CEO of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, said Monday he’s got his “fingers and toes crossed” for healthy holiday season.
“It’s supposed to be a very important day,” Reagen said of Monday’s online shopping push. “I think what’s important (though) is there seems to be a positive mood that seems to be sparking.”
Reagen said he’s heard from local retailers that a lot of people turned out to local shopping centers Friday.
“It’s critical for the economy,” he said. “Our economy has been hemorrhaging, (and) the retail and hospitality industries are particularly important elements in our economy.”
While the online shopping surge will continue throughout the holiday season, experts say the next wave of heavy online traffic will come in the middle of December, when online shoppers are making last-minute purchases to ensure items are shipped in time for the holidays.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Connect with Naples reporter Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster at www.naplesnews.com/staff/jenna_buzzacco