Written by Emma Vetriano • Published 7th December 2011 • 1 minute read

Phrases like ‘economic downturn’, ‘record levels of unemployment’ and ‘recession’ have become the background to our everyday lives for the last few years. However, this week we’ve had a slight respite from the doom-and-gloom headlines about the economy. The media are bandying about a new favourite phrase ‘Cyber Monday’, as the digital equivalent of Black Friday. Black Friday is a US term coined for the busiest shopping day of the festive calendar – many shops capitalise on this increased footfall with special deals and discounts. Cyber Monday has become the online, international equivalent of Black Friday. For several years on this day users – suddenly panicked about the lack of ticks on their shopping list – crawl the internet for the best deals. As with its offline predecessor, retailers have been quick to respond with specially targeted Cyber Monday campaigns.

Whilst the high street is looking somewhat sad and depleted, the online retail space has thrived in the lead up to Christmas. There was much speculation about the millions of people who would be shopping online last Monday. Mashable even wrote a tongue-and-cheek guide to getting your Christmas shopping done on Cyber Monday.

According to IBM Core Metrics Cyber Monday sales were up 33% on last year’s record of $1.03 billion. Retailers were quick to jump on the Cyber Monday bandwagon with email marketing campaigns, special deals and discounts and targeted adverts being commonplace. It even became a Cyber Week with top retailers extending their deals to encourage consumer spending.

Some extra savvy brands ran social media campaigns specifically geared up to Cyber Monday shoppers. Successful campaigns tapped into the popular backlash towards Christmas shopping on the high street – capitalising on the convenience of shopping from the comfort of home.  Pizza Hut cleverly identified that such intensive online shopping makes for hungry work. This year they ran special Cyber Monday offers on Facebook for customers ordering takeaway online. Their premise: “You don’t have to fight the crowds at the mall. You can shop and eat at home.”

It seems where the high street fails online shops are thriving – they certainly triumph when it comes to price and convenience. Indeed with web retailers hurrying to recreate the offline shopping experience in ever more imaginative ways, it is hard to think of any reasons to brave the high street this season.