American shoppers, intent on skipping crowded stores and 6 a.m. squabbles over the last bargain laptop, spent 26 percent more money online over the Thanksgiving weekend than they did in 2004, according to market-research figures.
Consumers spent $925 million on retail Web sites from Thursday to Sunday, nudging online purchases since Nov. 1 up 24 percent over 2004, comScore Networks said Tuesday.
And after a long weekend of pointing and clicking, millions kept right on shopping at work Monday, beginning at 9 a.m., retailers said, validating the holiday shopping season's latest buzz phrase, Cyber Monday.
VisaUSA said that online buying by its cardholders Monday rose 26 percent, to $505 million from the same day last year. The number of workers who shopped online during office hours Monday jumped to 15 million from 11.1 million in 2004.
Cyber Monday "is actually taking place," said Tom Burke, vice president of BarnesandNoble.com, which, along with Staples, said sales Monday were the biggest this holiday season. "We are just finally putting a moniker on it."
Holiday traffic peaked Monday, reaching 27.7 million visits, compared with 23.9 million Friday, and 21 million Saturday and Sunday, Nielsen Net Ratings, a marketing research firm, found.
The robust start to the online shopping season buoyed retailers, many of which are still fretting over a lackluster weekend in their brick-and-mortar stores. ShopperTrak, which measures purchases at stores in malls but not online, said sales over the weekend rose a slim 0.4 percent from last year.
It appears the Web snatched at least part of that mall business.
Diana Gonzalez, a 22-year-old legal secretary on Wall Street, said scenes of long lines from the day after Thanksgiving "made it unappealing to go to the stores." So on Monday she spent "most of the eight-hour workday" searching for an MP3 player and "dropping hints" to family members by forwarding links to her favorite products.
The most popular sites were eBay, with 11.7 million visitors Monday; Amazon, with 5.6 million; and Wal-Mart, with 3 million.
The name Cyber Monday grew out of the observation that millions of otherwise productive working Americans, fresh off a Thanksgiving weekend of window shopping, were returning to high-speed Internet connections at work Monday and buying what they liked.
This year, retailers said they saw a significant spike in the number of visits that translated into sales.
"People knew what they wanted," said Georgianne Brown, executive vice president for marketing at BabyUniverse.com. That site, which sells gear for babies like toys, strollers and car seats, had a sales increase of 50 percent over the same day last year.
Raul Vazquez, vice president for marketing at walmart.com, said that "customers were more decisive in their purchases." Three million shoppers visited the Wal-mart site Monday - though on the Friday after Thanksgiving, five million clicked onto the site.
Ann Farmer contributed reporting for this article.