Elves get busy on Cyber Monday

It's the most wonderful time of the year for online retailers

Black Friday might be the traditional start to the frenzied holiday-shopping season, but Cyber Monday reigns on the Web. Workers returning to the office after Thanksgiving weekend flooded online shopping sites at the beginning of last week.

According to Nielsen Online, traffic to sites in the Holiday eShopping Index reached 32.5 million unique visitors on Monday, Nov. 26, 13% more than on Black Friday and a 10% increase from Cyber Monday in 2006. On Black Friday, Nov. 23, 21.2 million users visited sites in the Index from home, a 10% increase over last year.

The Holiday eShopping Index is made up of more than 120 online retailers across 12 categories.

Although it actually had slightly more visitors on Black Friday, eBay came out on top on Cyber Monday with 10.8 million unique visitors, while Amazon was second at 7.2 million and Wal-Mart had 5.2 million visitors. AT&T and Target rounded out the top five with 3.9 million and 3.4 million visitors, respectively.

A comScore report found that online consumers spent $733 million on Cyber Monday, 21% more than last year, making it the busiest Web shopping day in history. This number was greater than Black Friday, when consumers spent about $530 million online.

ComScore, though, anticipates that Cyber Monday might not even be the busiest day of the year for online shopping. The company predicted that later in the holiday season, some days could see more than $800 million being spent. About $10.7 billion has been spent online since the beginning of last month.

Consumer electronics is the most in-demand online retail category this holiday season, with visits to sites in that category of the Holiday eShopping Index up 72.5% on Cyber Monday as compared with the previous Monday. Visits to sites featuring toys and video games were close behind, registering a 72% jump, and books, movies and video sites increased 63%.

As far as actual products, Nielsen found that plasma TVs and Nintendo Wii systems were popular among blog and online forum discussions concerning Black Friday. Elmo was the only toy mentioned with any frequency in these discussions.

Nielsen Online is owned by the Nielsen Co., parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.