A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

BBB Trends: Surfing for Cyber Monday deals, consumers will spend nearly $4 billion online

Cyber Monday – the biggest, busiest online shopping day of the year – is a great way to avoid the Black Friday crowds and still find deals on your holiday gifts.

In 2016, people spent $3.45 billion on online purchases. The National Retail Federation expects online sales to increase another 3.6 percent for the 2017 holiday season.

Recent shopping trends indicate that many people are using smartphones or tablets to compare prices or make purchases. This year, it is expected that approximately 47 percent of consumers will use a mobile device to make a purchase during the holidays and contributed 31 percent of sales.

All online shopping, from both desktop and mobile platforms, have an economic impact not only on a national level but also on a local level.
Michael Jones, University of Cincinnati economics professor and Academic Director for the Masters in Applied Economics, says the Greater Cincinnati area serves as an economic indicator of how the rest of the country will spend during the holidays.

According to collected local data, Greater Cincinnati’s economy is currently doing better than the rest of country, on average, in terms of wages and employment – two factors that spur spending during the holiday season. Similar to what the National Retail Federation is predicting, Jones believes Cincinnati’s economy will see at least a 3.5 percent lift from holiday sales.

“Online retail is an increasingly important shopping destination, as consumers are just as likely to shop online as they are to visit a large department or discount store,” said Jones.

BBB encourages online shoppers to stay smart, savvy, and safe this Cyber Monday. While considering an online purchase, take time to read the return and privacy policies for each store. Retailers may put select sale merchandise online for a limited period of time and may also have restrictions on returning or exchanging those items. Read the fine print carefully and save a copy of the receipt from the purchase in case there is a need for a refund or exchange.

Retailers are responsible for keeping your personal and financial information safe. However, famous retailer’s websites can be easily mimicked, so it is best to determine that the site you’re using is safe before inputting any information.

Websites with a padlock symbol next to the URL and a URL that starts with https – not http – are secure.

On the checkout screen, most legitimate businesses will indicate that they use an encryption software to protect personal information. When paying for your purchase, always use a credit card rather than a debit card since they provide more protection against fraudulent charges.

Before you participate in Cyber Monday sales, visit BBB’s Holiday Helper page for more tips on how to stay safe online this holiday season.  

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