Cyber Monday offers shoppers big discounts without fighting store crowds.
But for local retailers, the annual Internet shopping day that falls on the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend can be more like a lump of coal than a stocking stuffer.
John Heavener, president of the Georgia Retail Association, said the shift to buying online has increased anywhere from 8 to 20 percent during the last few years, while traditional stores have been pretty flat.
“It’s unfair to the bricks and mortar stores, because they have to pay taxes, they have to pay payroll, they give back to the community,” he said. “But then these people who don’t do any of that get the sales.
“It’s not a level playing field.”
Even a large retailer like Wal-Mart is noticing the swing.
Russ Hilsher, manager of the Market Place Boulevard location in Cumming, said his prices aren’t always as low as Wal-Mart pricing online. And while
Wal-Mart may be poised to have a big Cyber Monday, it won’t impact Hilsher’s store.
To stay competitive, Hilsher has instituted a price match policy on all items carried in his store. He’ll even match valid online prices.
“If it’s an identical item that we carry, I’ll match that price,” he said.
But there is a trick to shopping online and helping support local retailers and keeping tax dollars in Forsyth, Hilsher said.
“At walmart.com ... a lot of items are free ship to the store and they can just come by and pick it up at the store,” he said. ‘We get credit for all the sales and it actually goes to the store, so it would definitely help the [community] as far as taxes go.”
Heavener said the Internet shopping trend has increased so much, online retailers are competing for attention, with discount shipping and other specials.
About 87 percent of retailers will be offering a special promotion Monday, up from about 84 percent last year and 72 percent in 2007, according to the Shop.org’s eHoliday Survey.
A division of the National Retail Federation, Shop.org coined the term Cyber Monday and organizes www.cybermonday.com.
The Web site is pooling together more than 700 companies this year as a one-stop site where all promotions and specials can be found. Every hour, a different retail promotion will be highlighted.
Heavener said despite the online swing, some people still prefer to do their holiday shopping in person.
“I think a lot of it is probably age group sensitive,” he said. “You’ll see younger people going online more than older folks.
“Electronics and books are probably two of the main things we see online. But having said that, almost anything you can buy in a store, you can buy online now.”