Cyber Monday is expected to be the busiest online shopping day of the season, at least that's what retailers hope.
As you explore your online shopping options, there are some things that experts recommend to make sure you are getting what you expect.
The Cook County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management suggests you never click on links in emails, that could take you to a site you hasn't intended. The same goes with unsolicited emails, so don't respond to unsolicited emails.
Don't respond to texts or automated voice messages from unknown or blocked numbers on your mobile phone. And never open attachments.
IT expert Jerry Irvine also warns that while mobile devices may be easy to use, you might not want to shop on them. Instead, use your laptop or PC.
"Being on your mobile phone or mobile device, iPads, tablets, phones, these devices don't have anti-virus solutions on them, they don't have any type of malicious application on there to keep bad stuff from happening on your machines," Irvine, of Prescient Solutions, said.
Do some browsing on your mobile device, but if you're actually going to do some shopping, the experts suggest you actually use a computer.
And if you are shopping from work, maybe you're on your lunch break, check your employer's policy on the shopping online. Not only could this be a fireable offense, but also your employer might be recording all your private information and all your passwords to your accounts.
Retailers are advertising discounts and or free shipping to reel in your hard-earned dollars.
It's becoming a big day for local t-shirt designer Threadless. They had many online orders Friday, but Monday required all hands on deck, plus 90 temporary workers to get all the orders out of the West Loop facility.
"Today has been madness as it usually is on Cyber Monday and the whole weekend in general, " said Bob Nanna, Threadless.
A couple of employees had hoped to catch a few bargains Monday, but big bargains are not what they're finding.
"This morning I woke up early and checked out all the Cyber Monday deals," said Marcella Barcenas.
Marcia Dingman was hoping for deals on baby and kids stuff for her grandchildren. But Monday so far was more of a browsing day.
"I feel a little like they're going to continue to run the sale," said Dingman. "If it isn't something that I know that it's on my list or it is a new thing that I don't think someone can live without, I'm not really going crazy."
Bye-bye Black Friday. So long Small Business Saturday. Now, it's Cyber Monday's turn.
Cyber Monday, coined in 2005 by a shopping trade group that noticed online sales spiked on the Monday following Thanksgiving, is the next in a series of days that stores are counting on to jumpstart the holiday shopping season.
It's estimated that this year's Cyber Monday will be the biggest online shopping day of the year for the third year in a row: According to research firm comScore, Americans are expected to spend $1.5 billion, up 20 percent from last year on Cyber Monday, as retailers have ramped up their deals to get shoppers to click on their websites.
Amazon.com, which started its Cyber Monday deals at 12:01 a.m. Monday, is offering as much as 60 percent off a Panasonic VIERA 55-inch TV that's usually priced higher than $1,000. Sears is offering $430 off a Maytag washer and dryer, each on sale for $399. And Kmart is offering 75 percent off all of its diamond earrings and $60 off a 12-in-1 multigame table on sale for $89.99.
Retailers are hoping the deals will appeal to shoppers like Matt Sexton, 39, who for the first time plans to complete all of his holiday shopping online this year on his iPad tablet computer. Sexton, who plans to spend up to $4,000 this season, already shopped online on the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday and found a laptop from Best Buy for $399, a $200 savings, among other deals.
"The descriptions and reviews are so much better online so you can compare and price shop and for the most part get free shipping," said Sexton, who lives in Queens, N.Y., and is a manager at a utility company.
Sexton also said that it's easier to return an online purchase to a physical store than it had been in previous years. "That helps with gifts," he said.
How well retailers fare on Cyber Monday will offer insight into Americans' evolving shopping habits during the holiday shopping season, a time when stores can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue. With the growth in high speed Internet access and the wide use of smartphones and tablets, people are relying less on their work computers to shop than they did when Shop.org, the digital division of trade group The National Retail Federation, introduced the term "Cyber Monday."
"People years ago didn't have ... connectivity to shop online at their homes. So when they went back to work after Thanksgiving they'd shop on the Monday after," said Vicki Cantrell, executive director of Shop.org. "Now they don't need the work computer to be able to do that."
As a result, the period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday has become busy for online shopping as well. Indeed, online sales on Thanksgiving Day, traditionally not a popular day for online shopping, rose 32 percent over last year to $633 million, according to comScore. And online sales on Black Friday were up 26 percent from the same day last year, to $1.042 billion. It was the first time online sales on Black Friday surpassed $1 billion.
For the holiday season-to-date, comScore found that $13.7 billion has been spent online, marking a 16 percent increase over last year. The research firm predicts that online sales will surpass 10 percent of total retail spending this holiday season. The National Retail Federation estimates that overall retail sales in November and December will be up 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion
But as other days become popular for online shopping, Cyber Monday may lose some of its cache. To be sure, Cyber Monday hasn't always been the biggest online shopping day. In fact, up until three years ago, that title was historically earned by the last day shoppers could order items with standard shipping rates and get them delivered before Christmas. That day changes every year, but usually falls in late December.
Even though Cyber Monday is expected to be the biggest shopping day this year, industry watchers say it could just be a matter of time before other days take that ranking.
"Of all the benchmark spending days, Thanksgiving is growing at the fastest rate, up 128 percent over the last five years," said Andrew Lipsman, a spokesman with comScore.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.