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K-State Today

November 7, 2011

Black Friday or Cyber Monday: Consumers gain more options for holiday deals

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Move over, Black Friday. With online and mobile shopping, consumers are enjoying more ways to shop for holiday deals than just heading to the malls the day after Thanksgiving.

Two Kansas State University experts say the new ways to shop are catching on and that shoppers should keep cybersecurity in mind before making purchases.

Esther Swilley, assistant professor of marketing, said a growing holiday trend for many consumers is heavy online shopping on the day deemed Cyber Monday -- the Monday following Black Friday.

"The truth is in the numbers," Swilley said. "Cyber Monday is becoming a viable shopping option for many consumers. ComScore.com reported that sales on Cyber Monday 2010 surpassed $1 billion, making it the first online spending day on record to pass that amount."

Swilley has conducted research on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with a journal article concerning the subject currently under review.

In her research, she has found that both days have something to offer holiday shoppers. Consumers typically enjoy shopping on Black Friday because of the excitement at malls, the chance to see Santa Claus, the holiday decorations and the abundance of in-store sales. However, she said consumers also appreciate the variety of shopping outlets available online.

"Consumers are more likely to shop on Cyber Monday during work time, though shopping on Cyber Monday can be anxiety-driven when caught shopping instead of working," she said. "However, Cyber Monday allows consumers a better selection of gift choices, price shopping and delivery of gifts."

This wide selection of online deals also has the potential to threaten shopping safety, says Kansas State University's Dan Andresen, associate professor of computing and information sciences.

"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," he said. "Whether it's eBay or another web vendor, stick with vendors you know and trust."

Andresen said shopping at an established vendor, such as Amazon, Sears.com or Buy.com, comes with more security. These sites are more likely to be run by professionals.

"The vendors have a vested interest in keeping your buying experience positive, since they're in it for the long haul and want you to come back," he said.

Mobile shopping is another online shopping trend that could pose a cybersecurity threat this year. Andresen said mobile shopping, or purchasing products online with a handheld device, only further emphasizes the importance of password protection.

"Hackers are always prowling around, so it's probably not a great idea to have lots of passwords that can enable monetary transactions on your electronic devices -- smart phones count, too," he said. "I doubt hackers are significantly more active during the holiday season than any other time, but there may be more opportunities for them with users' increased online activity."

With this trend on the horizon, Swilley says retailers are expecting increases in mobile shopping this year, and she is interested to see how it will affect online shopping numbers.

Regardless of how you choose to shop this holiday season, it's important to remain safe, stay smart and of course, search for those money-saving deals, Swilley said.

"For both online and offline shopping, I would suggest that consumers check sales, prices and shipping options to maximize their savings," she said. "I don't think I can persuade a consumer to shop either online or offline. It is a matter of personal choice."