For e-tailers, it's Cyber Monday

Traffic tracking service shows 50% increase in typical Monday morning traffic on key shopping sites.

By Parija B. Kavilanz, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- After having secured their Black Friday deals, shoppers next turned to e-tailers to pick up more holiday discounts on Cyber Monday, the online retail world's version of Black Friday.

According to a Shop.org survey, about 61 million consumers plan to shop online from home or at work on one of the biggest online shopping days of the year.

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Early morning online traffic trends already indicated a sharp spike in the North America region, said Jennifer Donovan, spokeswoman for online business solutions provider Akamai.

According to Akamai's Net Usage Index for retail, which monitors aggregate Web traffic to over 270 global Web sites, including etoys.com, Overstock.com, jcpenney.com, Bestbuy.com and Circuitcity.com, total North American traffic by visitors per minute on Cyber Monday was up more than 50 percent so far compared to normal traffic trends for a Monday, according to Donovan.

As of noon ET, the sites tracked were drawing nearly 3.3 million visitors per minute, surpassing last year's Cyber Monday peak of 3.1 million visitors per minute. "We still haven't reached the peak yet," Donovan said.

iPods, PS3, Wii, T.M.X Elmo top searches on Yahoo! Shopping

Online sellers are projected to have a stellar holiday season this year.

ComScore Networks estimates total holiday-related buying on the Internet to jump 24 percent to more than $24 billion.

Some industry analysts speculate that in-store shortages of the year's hottest products, like Sony (Charts)'s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii gaming consoles and well as T.M.X. Elmo from Fisher-Price, will also pump up traffic and sales at many Web sites such as eBay (down $0.97 to $32.42, Charts) where those products have popped up for auction.

PS3, Wii and Elmo were among the top 15 product searches on Yahoo! Shopping, according to Chris Saito, the company's vice president of products. Elmo placed at No. 13 on the list.

Even though Yahoo! Shopping experienced a "record" day on Black Friday, Saito said he's not worried that the strong Friday and weekend patterns would have eaten into Monday's momentum for the Web site.

While Cyber Monday typically earns all the hype, experts point out that it's the Monday before Christmas that tends to be the busiest day for online shopping.

Saito said he anticipates Cyber Monday and the following two Mondays to be equally busy.

What are the hot categories for holiday shoppers?

"Over the last few years, books, music and movie DVDs and electronics used to be the big sellers. More recently, clothing, shoes, jewelry, home and garden and furniture have also emerged as popular categories," Saito said.

Wal-Mart (down $0.85 to $47.05, Charts), not yet done with its holiday price slashing, marked "Cyber Monday" by unveiling a 5-day sales blitz available exclusively for shoppers on its Web site. [Full Story]

From Monday through Friday, the retailer has set discounts on a variety of electronics, jewelry, toys and clothing.

The deals include a 42-inch Hitachi plasma HDTV for $1,198.00; Philips 3 MP digital camera for $49.00; Kodak V570 5 MP digital camera for $218.00; cashmere scarves for $16.88 and a 2-karat diamond bracelet for $998.00.

Black Friday weekend: A solid start

The holiday shopping season got off to a running start, according to surveys released over the weekend, though it was still unclear how that will impact retailers' profits.

More than 140 million shoppers hit the stores on Black Friday weekend, spending an average of $360.15, up 18.9 percent from last year's $302.81, estimated the National Retail Federation (NRF).

A survey by ShopperTrak estimated a 6 percent sales increase overall for Friday alone, to $8.9 billion.

Wal-Mart sparked initial concerns when it released a disappointing November sales forecast Saturday. It estimated that November sales fell 0.1 percent at its U.S. stores open at least a year - the forecast included sales on Black Friday.

Wal-Mart, Target (Charts), Costco (Charts), J.C. Penney (Charts) and other major retailers will release final November sales reports Thursday.

Stores enjoyed big crowds around the country on Black Friday, so called because it's when retailers are said to move out of the red (operating at a loss) and into the black. November and December account for as much as half of retailers' profits and sales.

"Each year, consumers have greater expectations for doorbuster specials, forcing retailers to raise the bar," said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin in a statement. "This year, stores did not disappoint."

Still, the NRF anticipates holiday sales will grow 5 percent to $457.4 billion, slower than last year's 6.1 percent increase.

Special Report: Holiday Money 2006

Black Friday: Bargains make it busy

This year's must-have toys Top of page

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.