This year's Cyber Monday is poised to be the biggest yet -- and retailers are staking their claims on the shopping bonanza.
Falling on Dec. 2, Cyber Monday is expected to drive $9.4 billion in sales, according to a projection from Adobe (ADBE) - Get Adobe Inc. Report Analytics. That represents an increase of 18.9% over last year, making it the fastest-growing online shopping day of the year. Overall, online sales from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 are expected to reach $143.7 billion -- an increase of 14.1% over last year, compared to growth of just 4% for all online and offline sales.
With Thanksgiving falling on Nov. 28, the latest possible date, the peak period for holiday shopping is unusually short this year, with only 22 days between Cyber Monday and Christmas Day. That means retailers are switching up their sales strategy accordingly, offering deals earlier and potentially adjusting how they plan on getting purchases to consumers.
Amazon (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report , Walmart (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report and others are locked in a one-day shipping battle this season, with Amazon offering next-day shipping for Prime members -- a $1.5 billion effort announced earlier this year -- and Walmart also offering free next-day shipping for orders over $35. BestBuy (BBY) - Get Best Buy Co., Inc. Report , Kohl's (KSS) - Get Kohl's Corporation Report and others also offer next-day shipping on select items.
Amazon's track record on fast shipping clearly works in its favor around the holidays: For the 2018 holiday season, Rakuten Intelligence estimated that 34% of all online holiday orders were from Amazon. And industry analysts have pointed out that during shopping crunch time close to Christmas, many consumers turn to Amazon because of its reliable shipping.
But it isn't all about fast shipping this year. The compressed shopping season means that "buy online, pick up in store" will be a more popular option than ever, according to John Copeland, Adobe's head of marketing and customer insights.
"With fewer days to spend, Adobe Analytics predicts that BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) will be more popular than ever before, with revenue from this delivery method doubling in the week before Christmas as shoppers rush to complete their gift lists," he said in a statement.
Besides offering shoppers the option of collecting items on their own timeframe, store pickup carries other perks for retailers.
For one, it is less costly than competing in the one-day shipping arms race. In a recent interview with CNBC, Target (TGT) - Get Target Corporation ReportCEO Brian Cornell said that shifting online order fulfillment from distribution centers to stores cut costs by 40%.
Shoppers may also spend more money once they're inside a physical store, noted Erik Morton, SVP of product and strategy at CommerceHub. CommerceHub estimated in a recent report that 85% of consumers will buy more items when they come in to pick up their online orders.
"When consumers elect to pick up their purchases in-store, retailers are not only able to reduce their shipping costs, but also sell even more product, as these same consumers tend to make additional purchases once they come in-store to retrieve their orders -- something that could easily feed into holiday sale buzz," Morton told TheStreet.