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US Holiday Cyber Commerce Surges

FILE - A worker places an item in a box for shipment, at a fulfillment center in DuPont, Washington.

U.S. consumers are expected to boost online purchases by 14 percent today (Monday) as more customers use computers and smart phones to purchase holiday bargains offered by competitive retailers.

The research group comScore predicts that e-commerce will hit $70 billion for the holiday season that ends in late December with the traditional exchange of gifts for Christmas. Researchers say a significant and fast-growing share of e-commerce is done via mobile devices. The National Retail Federation says total holiday commerce will exceed $600 billion.

Holiday shopping accounts for around one-third of annual commerce for retailers, and in some cases, a strong season is the difference between profit and loss.

The holiday shopping season traditionally starts the day after late November's patriotic and religious holiday of Thanksgiving, which is always on a Thursday. The day after has been dubbed "Black Friday" because success on that key shopping day is associated with being profitable, or "in the black."

Surging e-commerce, however, is eroding holiday sales in traditional or "bricks and mortar" stores. That is particularly true on the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday when workers return to jobs, where they often have access to computers. So many people take time out from work to bargain hunt that the day is called "Cyber Monday." The National Retail Federation says 121 million Americans will go online to shop this Monday. Cyber Mondays have been hitting record-high sales totals for the past six years, and experts predict more than $3 billion in sales this Cyber Monday, which would be another record.

The Consumer Technology Association says around 45 percent of shoppers plan to purchase electronic devices, particularly smart phones and televisions.

Delivering all of those gadgets, toys, clothing and other gifts is a huge task for the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx. FedEx says it expects to deliver a record 317 million packages, and has added tens of thousands of workers to its crew of more than 300,000.

Cyber commerce is also surging in other nations. China's Alibaba sold a new record $14.3 billion associated with early November's "Singles' Day," which has seen commerce expand quickly since 2009.