BOSTON (CBS) — Bells ring in the season with the melody “On the First Day of Christmas…” at Boston’s Downtown Crossing.

The bells survive as a tradition at the intersection where the big department stores have greeted shoppers for decades. But a new, invisible tradition is taking hold.

On the first day of the online shopping season, the words “Cyber Monday” are music to retailers’ ears. The marketing concept originated five years ago among internet retailers, but now that many more shoppers are online, brick-and-mortar stores rely on it to boost sales.

WBZ-TV’s Ron Sanders reports.

Forrester Research predicts $52 billion in online sales this month and next, a 16 percent increase over last year. The National Retail Foundation says more than 106 million Americans planned to shop online Cyber Monday. Most of them, 70 million, expected to shop online at work this Cyber Monday.

Between smoothies and lattes he was serving at the Back Bay coffee shop Wired Puppy, Kyle Crawshaw was surfing for bargains. “I’m seeing some different deals from Guitar Center and Apple, offering discounts on iPods and different coupons on certain products that seem pretty appealing,” explained Crawshaw at his keyboard.

Craig Caplan owns Unique Boutique, a push cart business at Downtown Crossing; but he is also a consumer. “I think at some point today, I’ll check eBay, look at and Best Buy just to see if there are better deals now than on Black Friday,” said Caplan between cash transactions for luggage he sells.

If you are still looking for bargains, the National Retail Foundation says 88 percent of retailers have special Cyber Monday promotions this year. “You know the consumer is being reminded by these promotions that there are options and you ought to pick and choose,” said Jon Hurst, Retailers Association of Massachusetts President.

What’s different about Cyber Monday now? You don’t have to be in front of your home computer or even the one at the office to shop online. You can be out on the street and use your smart phone. “And I plan on buying as PlayStation 3 and a TV…No lines. No crowds,” said Nakaya Wiggins of Hampden, CT tapping on her Blackberry.

No wonder more shoppers went online Black Friday. The research firm comScore says on line sales last Friday reached $648 million. That would make Black Friday the biggest day of online spending this year before Cyber Monday.


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