By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Online shopping is so popular that for a brief time on Monday, Target’s website crashed.

No matter — 121 million shoppers are estimated to go online on Cyber Monday.

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“It’s easier for them to shop and compare online than it is to run around from store to store,” says Prof. Elaine Luther of Point Park University.

Many stores, like August Wendell Forge, say today is the best day for online deals.

“You’re going to see offers today that are better even than the Black Friday weekend,” says Will Knecht, the Forge’s president.

But getting better deals is sometimes hit or miss.

“I don’t think the deals are quite as great as past years,” notes Janet Panza of Harrison City.

WalletHub found the products with the largest markdowns on Cyber Monday were: jewelry; books, movies and music; apparel and accessories; furniture, and appliances.

And the retailers with the biggest online discounts included Belk, Bon-Ton, J.C. Penney, Macy’s and Kohl’s.

Cynthia Powell of Bethel Park says she got some good deals.

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“I got some great ones, and I hate to comment on it because they’ll be Christmas presents.”

What has allowed the explosion of online purchasing has been the smartphone and the development of new technologies by companies, like one here in Pittsburgh, that has made it a whole lot easier to buy things on line.

A South Side start-up called Branding Brand has built the web and app systems for more than 200 leading retailers.

“It really matters to have a great mobile presence this year,” CEO and founder Chris Mason told KDKA money editor Jon Delano. “Cyber Monday is now a mobile experience where people are at work, they’re looking to use their mobile device to shop and buy, more than ever before.”

A majority of online shoppers – 63 percent – now use their smartphones or tablets to visit retail web sites.

But it’s not limited to Cyber Monday.

Thanksgiving day online sales hit a record $1.1 billion.

“We were shocked on Thanksgiving,” said Knecht of August Wendell Forge. “We actually doubled our sales online this year over last year.”

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