For years, Cyber Monday has been the online sibling to Black Friday, long known as the official kick-off of the holiday shopping season.
But it's not just your imagination, as online holiday sales really have been starting earlier than ever this year.
As CNBC reported, Macy's, Amazon and Bed Bath and Beyond have already started online Early Black Friday sales. So with more stores offering online holiday sales earlier than ever, does Cyber Monday even matter anymore?
According to retail analysts, the answer is yes, thanks for asking.
But the only question is whether this year's upcoming Cyber Monday, which will take place on Nov. 29, will be the biggest one yet, or a big deal that's nonetheless a step down from years past and 2020’s all-time high.
"Cyber Monday has grown in importance, peaking last year because people were reluctant to go to stores," says Michael Baker, a retail analyst for D.A. Davidson.
"It started to gain prominence when people would wait to go back to the office on Monday to use the better computers at work than what they had at home. It has become one of the top 10 busiest shopping days of the holiday season and has been growing in importance for the past five to seven years."
Last year's Cyber Monday saw a record-setting $10.8 billion, which was actually lower than the $12.7 billion total that some analysts predicted.
But last year was, to put it lightly, an outlier.
Online sales are expected to be robust this year, but spread out a bit more, as we reported that 30.6 million consumers “are planing to shop either in-store or online on Thanksgiving Day, while 108 million plan to shop on Black Friday and 62.8 million on Cyber Monday."
Cyber Monday is currently, in Baker's estimation, still "a big deal, but I think less so this year than last year because shoppers are going to return to stores."
But other retail analysts think rumors of Cyber Monday's decline are greatly exaggerated.
"It seems like retailers are starting their online sales earlier and earlier all the time," says Jonathan Fishman, a retail expert and co-founder of the Business development firm Bizydev.
"While there are a bunch of offshoot sales and promotions that now start ahead of Cyber Monday, the promotional efforts that have been instilled in the consumer over the last 10 plus years still makes Cyber Monday one of the biggest online shopping days of the year."
Now that in-store shopping is a thing again, Black Friday sales are back in full-force.
Fishman expects some retailers to "push better deals for Black Friday to bring people in the stores, for potentially better conversion and to experience the merchandise in person," he says, "while others will feel that offering better deals on Cyber Monday will be the best bet."
But Cyber Monday's obstacles aren't limited to the return of in-person shopping and earlier than ever sales, as inflation is on the rise.
While this could theoretically put a crimp in consumers' spending habits, Fishman isn't worried. After all, people still have to either get gifts, or risk looking like a Grinch.
"If inflation is priced in the entire marketplace, then we should expect the consumer to look at their alternative options and make a purchasing decision based on those competing realities," he says.
"With the improvement of online purchasing experiences, the rise of direct to consumer brands selling online, and the growth in digital device usage, 2021 Cyber Monday sales will likely exceed all previous years sales records."
As you've no doubt heard, or perhaps seen at your local store, the supply chain is a bit backed up at the moment, which is one of the impetus for stores offering earlier sales than ever. You gotta get on it before nothing is left, after all.
But while people might get their gifts late or have less options, "consumers will spend," says Baker.
"Margins have not been as good because of supply chain and cost of goods increases. But with consumer balance sheets strong and people wanting to celebrate after doing less so last year, we think sales will be good."
Whether good means "good or the Best Cyber Monday Ever" remains to be seen.