UPDATE 1-Cyber Monday sales may hit record, Amazon ahead

Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:20pm EST

Related Topics

 * Amazon has sales edge on Walmart Cyber Monday - experts
 * ComScore says $900 mln in online sales not unrealistic
 * Shop.org predicts nearly 100 mln online shoppers
 * Amazon shares hit all-time high
 (Adds detail on website performance in last paragraph)
 By Alexandria Sage
 SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Online retail sales on
"Cyber Monday" are set to reach a new record, with rivals
Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Walmart.com set to be the prime
beneficiaries, according to industry experts.
 Shares of Amazon soared to an all-time high on Monday on
optimism over the company's holiday performance and a statement
by Amazon reporting record November sales for its Kindle
electronic book reader. [ID:nN30447994]
 The Web retail leader has been challenged by Wal-Mart
Stores Inc's (WMT.N) smaller online unit on offering the lowest
prices on selected books, toys, electronics and other goods
this holiday season.
 "From a growth perspective, Walmart could potentially be
the winner, but from a dollars perspective we still think
Amazon will trump it," said Jefferies analyst Youssef Squali,
who estimates that Amazon will report about 30 percent sales
growth in its holiday fourth quarter.
 Walmart does not break out sales for Walmart.com, but
Squali estimates it to be a $2 billion to $3 billion business.
 While Web sales represent a fraction of overall U.S.
holiday sales, they are gaining strength as consumers intent on
bargains rely more on sites to track and compare deals.
 Cyber Monday, a term coined in 2005 by Shop.org, the online
division of the National Retail Federation, refers to Web
promotions offered by retailers beginning on the Monday after
Thanksgiving.
 Web tracking firm comScore said about $900 million could be
spent online on Monday, when retailers offer steep discounts
and free shipping on their sites. That follows an 11 percent
surge in online sales to $595 million on Black Friday, the
traditional start to holiday sales in stores. [ID:nN29421378]
 ComScore will report Cyber Monday data on Wednesday. Total
sales over the holiday weekend from Thanksgiving Day on
Thursday through Sunday rose 0.5 percent to $41.2 billion,
according to the National Retail Federation.
 Walmart.com began touting on Monday CyberWeek specials,
such as a 32-inch Sony Bravia (6758.T) television for $398 and
the newest model Apple (AAPL.O) iPod Nano for $145.
 Amazon offered a Samsung 22-inch flat screen television for
just under $250, a discount of 48 percent, and the newest iPod
Nano model at $134.99.
 EBAY MAY BE CHEAPER
 The rivalry between Amazon and Walmart.com is part of an
overall migration from the offline world to online, where more
consumers have become comfortable making purchases.
 "Ultimately, considering that e-commerce accounts for 8
percent at best of all commerce, there is still a long road
ahead of them to gain marketshare from the 800 pound gorilla --
which is offline," said Squali.
 Squali pointed to eBay, which he predicts still can
increase sales on a percentage basis in the low teens year over
year. Shares of eBay closed up 5.4 percent at $24.47, fueled by
strong results from its online payments unit PayPal over the
holiday weekend.
 EBay, which is advertising "12 Days of Deals" on its main
site, is still cheap compared with other Internet rivals whose
valuations are richer, Squali said.
 EBay has a forward-looking price-to-earnings ratio of 14,
versus 52 at Amazon, 22 at Google Inc (GOOG.O) and 14 at
Wal-Mart.
 Shares of Amazon rose 3.2 percent to close at $135.91 on
the Nasdaq, while shares of Wal-Mart closed on the New York
Stock Exchange down 8 cents at $54.55.
 GLOVES OFF AT WALMART.COM  
 Richard Hastings, a consumer strategist with Global Hunter
Securities, said Amazon has the "ultimate edge" for its array
of third-party sellers and brands that use the Amazon.com site
to display their wares.
 "Walmart.com, while it is excellent and massive in scale,
still doesn't have the multitude of third-party unaffiliated
brands," Hastings said. "It still doesn't approach what Amazon
is bringing to the show."
 Squali gave a nod to the recent accomplishments of
Walmart.com, a 10-year-old business that for years lived in the
shadows of Walmart stores without effectively competing.
 "It looks like in the past six months they've started to
give freer range to the online managers to do whatever it takes
to go after Amazon, and that's why you're seeing them gain some
ground," he said.
 Shop.org predicted that some 96.5 million shoppers would
shop online on Monday, up 13.5 percent from 85 million last
year. The day is characterized by promotions advertised online,
through email and social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
 AlertSite, a company that monitors the performance of
websites, said the major online retailers' sites held up well
under the heavy Cyber Monday traffic, but those of Best Buy Co
Inc (BBY.N) and Kohl's Corp (KSS.N) experienced timeouts
earlier in the day.
 (Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Michele Gershberg,
Matthew Lewis and Tim Dobbyn)
FILED UNDER:
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