SAN FRANCISCO More Internet retailers will offer special promotions on Cyber Monday, the day following the Thanksgiving weekend touted as the kickoff of the online holiday shopping season.
Nearly 84 percent of online retailers plan to have a Cyber Monday promotion, according to a survey by online shopping site Shopzilla for Shop.org, the Internet division of the National Retail Federation. That was well above the 72 percent who planned to promote Cyber Monday deals last year.
Nearly a quarter of retailers plan to offer free shipping on all purchases in what they hope will be a further incentive to buy.
The Monday following the three-day holiday weekend has been dubbed Cyber Monday because many consumers return to work and use their high-speed Internet connections to search out deals not found at brick-and-mortar retailers.
Last year, Internet research firm comScore Inc said U.S. buyers spent $733 million on Cyber Monday, up 21 percent from the prior year.
But the sales forecast this year is expected to be weak, whether in stores or online, in the midst of a credit crunch, ongoing housing slump and global financial meltdown.
Shoppers have cut out all but the most essential items and retailers increasingly have to offer merchandise at deep discounts.
Internet giants such as Amazon.com Inc and eBay Inc forecast a weaker holiday this year and Forrester Research said this autumn that U.S. online sales are projected to grow a mere 12 percent -- their lowest-ever jump since online sales have been tracked.
Forrester also found that about a third of online buyers planned to spend less this November and December than last year.
In 2007, U.S. online holiday sales were about $39 billion, an 18 percent jump over 2006.
According to the survey, some 25 percent of online retailers planned a one-day-only sale, while 33 percent cited a special email campaign. Some 16 percent were offering no special deals.
Some 29 percent of online stores said they would increase e-marketing on promotions for Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving.
(Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Andre Grenon)