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Shoppers expected to spend a record $1.5 billion on Cyber Monday (timeline)

Shoppers are expected to spend at least $1.5 billion online in a record-breaking Cyber Monday, according to research firm comScore Inc.

Cyber Monday is an online shopping holiday where retailers tout free shipping and discounts on their websites. Sales are expected to climb at least 15 percent this year, as more shoppers use smart phones and avoid crowds by buying online.

In California, it is the first year shoppers are required to pay sales tax on their purchases at Internet-only retailers like Amazon. Brick and mortar retailers had pushed for the change.

Automotive marketing manager Angela Lee, a Kohl's shopper, said she didn’t mind paying taxes on her online purchases. She bought a Keurig coffee maker at Kohl's for about $100, sold in a Cyber Monday sale. She estimates she saved $50.

Lee said the sales taxes didn’t bother her, because Kohl’s gave her $30 in store credit to spend at the retailer and free shipping.

“They have remedied it by offering something additional,” said Lee, who works in Long Beach. “Yes, the tax is now on the purchase, but they have done a good job of masking that fee.”

So far, the holiday shopping season has already kicked off to a strong start. About 247 million people shopped during Black Friday weekend, a 9 percent increase from last year, according to the National Retail Federation. Shoppers spent $59.1 billion, up 13 percent from 2011, the federation said, which measures Black Friday weekend as a four-day event, starting on Thanksgiving.

Several stores opened on Thanksgiving Day, with some retailers pushing their opening hours even earlier. Walmart opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than last year. Target opened at 9 p.m., three hours earlier than last year.

Lee, 31, said she didn’t like how the store displays were left in disarray after the crowds of Thanksgiving shoppers. The mess and long lines caused Lee to buy fewer items on Black Friday. She plans to spend more on Cyber Monday, keeping purchases under $500 if possible.

“I don’t have any budget set,” Lee said. “Maybe that’s dangerous.”