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Another Cyber Monday, another online sales record

If you missed the day's deals, plenty more should be on the way this holiday season.

With its two-day shipping, Amazon Prime helps satisfy customers' need for (nearly) instant gratification. Those shipping costs, though, are taking a toll on Amazon's profit.
Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Black Friday 2016's reign as the biggest US online sales day ever didn't last long. Three days to be exact.

That's because Cyber Monday hit $3.45 billion in online sales, up 12 percent from a year earlier, according to the latest statistics from Adobe Digital Insights. The day edged out Black Friday by roughly $110 million. Jill Stein is already calling for a recount. (OK, not really.)

The fact that Cyber Monday reached a new record is no surprise. It's done that in plenty of years past. What is a surprise, though, is that Black Friday nearly caught up.

Becky Tasker, managing analyst for Adobe Digital Insights, said retailers started offering discounts later this year -- on Thanksgiving morning instead of a few days earlier -- resulting in pent-up demand on Black Friday. That fact shows that both retailers and consumers are getting more comfortable with starting holiday shopping a bit later in the season, Tasker said, as online shipping improves and "buy online, pickup in-store" options grow.

"Everything is growing, but there's more growth toward the end of the season as people take advantage of better shipping to get their products on time," she said.

The latest numbers keep up the trend of online sales spreading out to more days during the holidays, as consumers spend more money online and are able to shop using a variety of devices, including PCs, tablets and phones. Overall, Adobe expects 53 consecutive days of $1 billion-plus online sales days this holiday season, up from just 31 consecutive days last year.

"People can actually shop in more situations than they've been able to do in the past," said Sam Shrauger, Visa senior vice president of digital products.

So, if you missed the Cyber Monday discounts, there's a very good chance plenty more great deals will be coming later this week and well into December. In general, better deals are available later in the holiday season for gaming consoles, toys and discounted gift cards, according to Marissa Tarleton, RetailMeNot's chief marketing officer.

As far as the best sellers on Cyber Monday, Adobe said the top toys were Lego sets, Nerf, Shopkins, Barbie and Pie Face Game, and the five best-selling electronics were Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox, Samsung 4K TVs, Apple iPhone and Amazon Fire.

Amazon, which said it was on pace to have its best Cyber Monday yet, also said its Echo Dot smart speaker was its best-selling item on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Of the more than 2 million toys the e-commerce giant sold in the first half of Monday, Pie Face Showdown Game by Hasbro has been its best-selling toy so far.

Meanwhile, Walmart said its best-sellers included the Apple iPad, Samsung 55-inch Smart LED HDTV, PlayStation 4 and Barbie Dreamhouse. The big-box retailer reported record visits to Walmart.com through the four-day stretch since Black Friday.

Sales on phones and tablets on Cyber Monday continue to grow, despite lots of challenges for the small screens. Adobe said mobile revenue reached $1.07 billion Monday, up 34 percent from a year earlier. That's just below Black Friday, which was the first day in US retail history to hit over $1 billion in mobile sales.

In all, Adobe predicts an 11 percent rise in online sales this holiday, just below last year's percentage growth.

You can bet that there will be more online sales records on these major shopping days in the coming years, with mobile playing a bigger role.

"We aren't really seeing any signs of slowing down," Tasker said. "Consumers just continue to take advantage of online discounts year-over-year."

Originally published on Monday at 7:05 p.m. PT.
Update, 7:31 a.m. PT: Added Adobe's final Cyber Monday numbers and top-sellers, as well as Walmart's results.