I’m Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Economics Report.
For Americans, the traditional season to buy winter holiday gifts begins on the last Friday in November. "Black Friday" is the name for the day just after Thanksgiving Day. But lately there is a term for another popular shopping day that follows Black Friday: "Cyber Monday."
The term Cyber Monday comes from an observation made by people who study the holiday buying season. That is, lots of people may have gone into stores over the Thanksgiving weekend to look for gifts. But many wait until they return to work on Monday to buy online. Many people have faster Internet connections on the computers at their jobs than at home.
An Internet research company, comScore Networks, says Americans spent more than nine hundred million dollars online from Thanksgiving through Sunday. Then they bought four hundred eighty-five million dollars in goods over the Internet on Monday. The company says both amounts were twenty-six percent higher than last year.
What were the most popular sites for online shoppers? EBay is said to have had almost twelve million visitors on Monday. EBay is a site on which people sell goods to each other. Next were the Web sites of Amazon and Wal-Mart Stores.
Consumer spending represents two-thirds of all economic activity in the United States. And about one-fourth of all personal spending takes place during the holiday season. There are gifts to buy for Christmas, Hanukkah and the African-American celebration of Kwanzaa.
The day after Thanksgiving got the name Black Friday from the tradition of recording profits in black ink and losses in red ink. Black Friday may be a profitable time for sellers, but it is no longer the biggest shopping day of the year. Now the busiest day usually falls just before Christmas on December twenty-fifth.
Still, the National Retail Federation says more than sixty million people visited stores last Friday, eight percent more than a year ago.
The industry group says its expects holiday sales to increase by six percent over last year. There are concerns that high energy prices could cut into holiday spending, but those prices are down from their recent highs.
This VOA Special English Economics Report was written by Mario Ritter. Internet users -- when they're not shopping -- can read and listen to our reports at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.