While millions of people were lined outside stores or in malls across America in a Black Friday frenzy, Richard Solomon was completing his purchase of a 39-inch Samsung LED TV, while still in his pajamas.
"It was so much easier and effortless," said Solomon, 50, an engineer who lives in central New Jersey who paid $387 for the TV from New York-based B&H Electronics at 6 a.m. on Black Friday. "There was no hassle -- I was loving every minute of it."
In-person shopping on Black Friday and other days between Thanksgiving in the U.S. and Christmas, in which many retailers make the bulk of their yearly revenue, shows no sign of abating, deeply ingrained as it is in American culture.
But there's no denying that bargain-hunters are increasingly comfortable skipping the lines to take full advantage of bargains that compete with bricks-and-mortar store deals -- without the risk of being trampled.
And mobile devices are fueling that trend. Solomon made the purchase on his iPad 2 while visiting relatives in New York. And he's far from alone. iPad users made up 10.7 percent of online shoppers, according to IBM, whose Digital Analysis Benchmark system tracks transactions from 500 retailers.
IBM tweeted on Friday that 14.6 percent of all consumers shopping on Black Friday used mobile devices, up from 10.6 percent last year, suggesting that fewer are waiting for Cyber Monday, when most people will be at work, to scoop up deals like that television set.
Cyber Weekend's Here
Cyber Monday has been transforming rapidly into Cyber Weekend, beginning with Turkey Day. On Thanksgiving, online shopping rose 17.4 percent over last year, with the iPhone driving 10.5 percent of sales, IBM said.
Few online retailers have been waiting their turn for Cyber Monday, instead trying to get a jump on sales Thursday and Friday. BestBuy.com, for example, tempted consumers with a three-day Thanksgiving weekend sale.
At the same time, online king Amazon.com featured Black Friday deals on its landing page, including 50 percent off TVs and $70 off a PlayStation Vita mobile gaming device bundled with the Assassin's Creed II Liberation game.
Amazon has also been featuring a clock counting down the hours to Cyber Monday, signifying more deals are yet to come.
As it builds warehouses in key population centers, Amazon is gearing up for an even bigger challenge to conventional stores with same-day shipping in some areas. In doing so, it eliminates the key rationale against online shopping -- the delayed gratification of waiting several days to get your goods or give your gift. Quicker delivery could help offset the disadvantage of now being forced to collect sales tax in some states.
Download Your Gift
Even more instant gratification is available from online stores that sell only digital products, and those sellers are also trying to cash in on the cyber shopping craze.
On Friday, Google's Play Store sent out an email promoting "Top Cyber Weekend Deals on Android Apps and More." Included: Movies from $4.99, top albums from $2.99, season passes for TV series for $9.99 and 50 percent off digital subsciptions to publications such as Newsweek.
Google was also pushing its 16 GB Nexus 7 tablet for just $199.
Another digital trend this holiday season is giving the gift of e-cards and e-reading. Although e-books don't necessarily make the best stocking stuffers, they are an increasingly popular choice for those who enjoy reading on their iPad, Kindle or Nook, or even on their smartphone. Amazon's Kindle reading apps, for example, enable readers to enjoy a book across multiple devices, reading on a PC or Mac, then switching to read on an iPhone or Android smartphone while on the road.