RIP Cyber Monday, long live Cyber Sunday

Shoppers want Cyber Monday bargains on Sunday evening, says retail giant Walmart, so it's moving its online sales schedule ahead accordingly.

The term Cyber Monday hasn't changed. But its meaning has: Sales will get under way this year on Sunday.

Walmart

Cyber Monday can no longer contain the biggest online shopping experience of the year, Walmart believes, so the retail giant is speeding up its plans for holiday sales.

The Cyber Monday moniker refers to the online shopping spree each holiday season after the Thanksgiving break, when people return to work and their fast Internet connections. Shopping at home has become the norm, though, and shoppers hoping to grab a bargain online will likely have to fire up their browsers the night before for what could become known as Cyber Sunday.

For the first time, Walmart will begin its online sale on the evening of Sunday, November 29, at 8 p.m. ET. The aim is to provide "a simpler and more convenient experience for customers who are searching the Web on Sunday night, often waiting up past midnight to do their shopping," the company said in a press release.

As the world's largest retailer by revenue, Walmart is in a strong position to make a dramatic change to a major shopping day and have consumers sit up and take note. Cyber Monday, which brought in $2 billion in the US last year, follows on the heels of the other major post-Thanksgiving shopping event, Black Friday. Walmart will be among many major retailers hoping to profit from both events and the week of sales that usually surrounds them.

It's possible the boundaries of such shopping events could blur even more, since Black Friday is gradually becoming "irrelevant," Forrester retail analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said after last year's shopping days. Online retailer Amazon, whose market capitalization surpassed Walmart's this year and now is far ahead at $313 billion to Walmart's $193 billion, now has its own sales event, Prime Day. An effort to rethink local shipping with aerial drones and wheeled robots also could diminish in-store shopping's instant-gratification advantage.

Walmart's decision to get an early start on Cyber Monday stemmed in part from Google search behavior data, which showed a significant spike for the search term "Cyber Monday" on Sunday evening, the company said. Now that people have fast connections at home and on their smartphones, shoppers simply wait until after midnight the Sunday after Thanksgiving to start grabbing deals when they become available, said Walmart.

"It can be exhausting for working parents and millennials to stay up past midnight to shop online, only to wake up early the next day to get ready for work," said Fernando Madeira, president and chief executive of Walmart.com. "By starting 'Cyber Monday' hours earlier on Sunday evening and quadrupling the number of Cyber Monday specials, we're making it easier for customers to get ahead of the busiest online shopping day of the year and save on the best gifts."

Walmart is quadrupling the number of Cyber Monday specials this year, with the biggest markdowns of between $200 and $500 applying to pricey electronics, including Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 tablet and a 65-inch 4K television from LG. Last year shipping was free on around 90 percent of items bought between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, and shipping will continue to be free on all home orders over $50.

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