Green Monday vs. Cyber Monday: When Did Holiday Shopping Really Peak?

Everyone knows about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but few have heard about "Green Monday," which is designated as the second Monday of December. Green Monday may be relatively obscure because it was named by eBay in a marketing campaign for late-season holiday shopping; however, the idea behind it is important because it supposedly marks online shoppers’ the last chance to order items without having to pay for expedited shipping (which usually means the end of free shipping offers). This year, December began on a Monday, which caused debate over the real date of Green Monday. By definition Green Monday was December 8, however, some anticipated December 15 to be a busier day because it better represented the true last chance to save on shipping.

In the chart below, we see the daily volumes of online purchasers during the holiday season across 10 leading retailers for this year and 2007.

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Last year saw four distinct purchase peaks during the holiday shopping season, all of which were relatively close to each other in terms of volume. This holiday season, neither Green Monday, nor any other single day could match the activity of Cyber Monday and Black Friday. Across this group of 10 retailers, Cyber Monday had at least 25% more people make a purchase online than the next closest day in December.

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The increased level of purchases is also apparent when analyzing conversion rates across these retailers. On all four of the above days, the daily conversion rate (percent of shoppers making a purchase) increased in 2008 from the prior year as shoppers become more accustomed to doing their gift buying through a retailer’s website. Also worth noting is that, in 2008, Green Monday had the lowest conversion rate out of the four days after being the highest in 2007.

Last year, similar amounts of online shoppers made purchases on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, as well as the following Monday. This year, shoppers purchased online much more frequently on Black Friday and Cyber Monday than they did on any other day of the season.

As retailers pull out all the stops to salvage their years, shoppers are increasingly realizing that clicking a mouse can be a much more pleasant shopping experience than wrestling the last item on the shelf away from a stranger and waiting in never-ending checkout lines.