Ladies and gentlemen, launch your web browsers.

Whether you consider it to be a virtual starting gun for the holiday shopping season, or simply don’t consider it at all, Cyber Monday has arrived -- though you’ll have to go online to notice.

Unlike its earlier cousin, Black Friday, the discounts associated with Cyber Monday are primarily offered on the Internet. Cyber Monday was given a formal name by in 2005, after the shopping trade group observed an increase in online sales on the Monday after U.S. Thanksgiving.

This year looks to be no exception. Research firm comScore estimates that Americans will spend US$1.5 billion this Cyber Monday, jumping 20 per cent from last year.

And despite its connection to an American holiday, the online bargain blowout has become popular among Canadians who prefer loading sites to check-out lines.

According to an annual Bank of Montreal report, a sizeable 44 per cent of Canadians plan to participate in Cyber Monday shopping. Of those shoppers:

  • 16 per cent say they’re shopping for others
  • 5 per cent say they’re buying for themselves
  • 23 per cent are buying for both themselves and others

As more and more Canadians take notice of what began as an American online shopping trend, it appears that the pressure is on for Canadian retailers to match U.S. offers.

On some websites, Cyber Monday “doorcrasher” events began before midnight.

Select electronics at retailers such as Future Shop have already seen substantial markdowns. For instance, the Canadian electronics store is selling an Insignia 50-inch LCD TV for CDN$479.99, a price that purportedly saves the consumer $120. Another Future Shop deal offers a Canon EOS 60D camera, and bundles it with 32 GB memory card and DSLR accessory kit, for $1149.99. Total savings are estimated at $375.

Packaging, according to Ran Ravitz of, is a strategy used by retailers who want to promote Cyber Monday sales but still make a profit.

“The trick is that they’re bundling a bunch of things together,” he told CTV’s Canada AM. “They can remove a lot of money off of the sale price and still make money off it.”

Another offer advertised on the front of a Sears Canada Cyber Monday catalogue promotes a washer and dryer combo, a package the retailer says will save the consumer roughly $500.

But, as with most too-good-to-be-true deals, Ravitz recommends that shoppers read the fine print before settling on a Cyber Monday offer.

For instance, has offered consumers free “site wide” shipping, but the offer only applies if a shopper has spent $99 or more.

“Some (websites) will have this restriction that you have to spend a certain amount and then you get the free shipping,” said Ravitz.

Other deals require consumers to pounce while they’re still available, he added.

“A lot of them are exclusively online, so you cannot get them in stores and they are limited for today.”