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Cyber Monday: The Race for Your Online Dollars

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Happy Cyber Monday. At least that's what retailers are hoping for.

The name was originally created in 2005 as a marketing tool to get consumers to shop online the Monday after raiding the stores in person on Black Friday. But now shoppers are much more Internet-savvy and do much of their shopping online every day of the year.

So online stores now have to work a lot harder to get people to part with their money today -- and that means "big deals" on popular items -- many of the highly technical variety. 

For instance, the No. 1 online retailer has been hawking its bargains almost endlessly in a stream of email dispatches. Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) is doing a great job letting me know it's adding new items as often as every 10 minutes. Actually, if you check the special Cyber Monday page you'll see it's really Amazon's "Cyber Monday Deal Week."

It's interesting to see exactly what deals Amazon is pushing. Yes, they offer sales on home, kitchen and garden products but the largest deals are reserved for popular high-tech goodies including Amazon's own Android tablets. A small sampling:

Save $50 on Kindle Fire HDX 7" Wi-Fi models, starting at $179
46% off Canon PowerShot point-and-shoot cameras
Samsung 46-Inch 1080p 60 Hz LED HDTV, $477.99
70% off Life of Pi on Blu-Ray disc, DVD & digital copy so you have it wherever you go
Grand Theft Auto V, under $40
Great deals on Xbox One Games

Brick-and-mortar retailers are hoping for a big Cyber Monday sales surge as well. Wal-Mart (WMT - Get Report), J.C. Penney (JCP), Target (TGT), Sears (SHLD) and Best Buy (BBY) are all angling for our hard-earned dollars with special offers on everything from flat-screen TVs, digital cameras, game consoles, tablets and smartphones to all the cases, games, memory cards, cables and batteries that goes with them.

According to ComScore, last year's Cyber Monday (Nov. 26, 2012) accounted for nearly $1.5 billion in sales, an increase of 17% from 2011 ($1.25 billion).

Cyber Monday isn't just an American phenomenon. The shopping holiday is also celebrated in Canada, Chile, Colombia, the U.K., Ireland, Portugal, Germany, Japan, China, India and Australia.

And a warning: Be careful where you gather your Cyber Monday deals. In the past two years, a large percentage (22%) of employers say they've fired workers for using company computers for tasks other than work on this busy shopping day.

-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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