Winter storm could nudge consumers to spend more on Cyber Monday, setting all-time sales record

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One Black Friday shopper in Colorado, one of the states hit with a Thanksgiving-time winter storm.

A winter storm stretching from the Appalachians to Maine could dump more than a foot of the white stuff in some places on Cyber Monday, forecasts predict.

It could also wring out extra greenbacks from workers who are staying at home Monday and have more time to peruse deals far from colleagues’ prying eyes.

A winter storm hit the parts of California and Oregon just before the Thanksgiving holiday and then moved across the west, Great Plains and upper Midwest. It first arrived Sunday on the East Coast, just in time to upend many travel plans during the country’s busiest travel weekend.

States with at least two inches of snow by Black Friday had a 7% increase in online sales that day, according to Adobe Analytics.

The winter weather on Monday is setting the stage for more spending, said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at the NPD Group, a market research firm.

Like other researchers, Cohen usually doesn’t buy the idea bad weather depresses brick-and-mortar sales while increasing online sales because shoppers can usually wait for storms to pass.

But a day like Cyber Monday is different, because the deals have fast-approaching deadlines, he said.

For online retailers, “I think this I actually help and it helps a lot,” said Cohen (who’s working from home Monday).

Even if kids are staying home from school too, “I think that parents are going to find the time to go online and shop,” he said.

Areas getting hit with inclement weather today could see a 4% to 8% lift in sales all because of the wintry blast, he noted.

The stay-at-home shopping scenario has already played out, data suggests. States with more than two inches of snow had a 7% increase in Black Friday online sales, according to Adobe Analytics, which has been tracking online holiday sales.

Shoppers will spend an estimated $9.4 billion this Cyber Monday, Adobe ADBE, -1.97%  said before the snow landed across the Northeast. If shoppers meet the projections, that would be almost 19% sales growth year over year.

By Monday morning, there were $473 million in online sales, Adobe said. Almost one-third of the total sales (30%) happen between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, as deal windows close, the company said.

‘Retailer fears of a shorter season meant that deals came much sooner than usual, and consumers took notice.’

—Taylor Schreiner, principal analyst and head of Adobe Digital Insights

“Online shopping received some unexpected boosts this holiday season,” said Taylor Schreiner, principal analyst and head of Adobe Digital Insights. “Retailer fears of a shorter season meant that deals came much sooner than usual, and consumers took notice. In some areas of the country, adverse weather in the form of snow and heavy rain meant that many opted to stay home instead and grabbed the best deals online.”

Black Friday this year raked in $7.4 billion in online sales, up 43% on last year, often on computers, phones and tablets, the company said.

The 2019 holiday season will mark the first time more customers (54%) are planning to shop online instead of at a store according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ holiday outlook.

“Between the Cyber Monday sales and the inclement weather keeping people at home rather than in the office, we expect it’ll be another record day,” said Steven Barr, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ consumer markets leader.

Others say the inclement weather won’t be a factor — because the day’s sales would be massive in any climate.

“Cyber Monday is all about online shopping anyway, so if someone was planning to participate, it was not because of the weather. I expect it to be a gang-buster day,” said Diana Smith, associate director of retail & apparel at Mintel, another market research firm.

One word of warning: The cold, wintry weather could be heating Cyber Monday sales, but shoppers have ways to avoid overspending.

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