UPDATE: According to IBM, Cyber Monday spending this year increased by 33 percent over 2010. 

There are deals, there are good deals, and then there’s Cyber Monday.

The online retailer’s response to Black Friday, Cyber Monday has been lowering workplace productivity since 2005.

Eight years ago the NRF’s shop.org recognized that online retail was edging in on brick-and-mortar retail on America’s biggest shopping day, the Friday after Thanksgiving. Jumping on the trend, they invented Cyber Monday.

Unlike Black Friday, Cyber Monday happens exclusively online, and although it rides on the coattails of a decidedly American tradition, it’s starting to be used by online-retailers in Europe and Canada to ring in the holiday shopping season.

While some dismissed Cyber Monday as a fad, the numbers tell a different story. Last year, U.S. shoppers spent a staggering $816 million (up 26 percent from the year before) and Visa Europe expects today to be it’s biggest, with £303 million spent online.

The proliferation of mobile devices is partly responsible for the rising numbers: people can shop on their sofas, on their lunch break, and even during business meetings. According to the BBC, 1 in 3 U.K. employees will be shopping at work because of faster connections.

E-commerce heavyweight Amazon.com and its U.K. site are projected to rake in huge profits today, but other sites are using it to promote their services by offering “surprise deals”.

Take Google Music, for example. According to Forbes, bestselling albums are being sold for $1.99. What Google loses in profit margins, it seeks to gain in promotional value.

Disseminating deals and catching shopper attention is a different beast in the digital space – customers aren’t committed to shopping at only a few stores (typical Black Friday line-ups are infamously long).

Consumers can leapfrog from one website to the next, comparing prices and jumping ship if they find better deals elsewhere.

That means that free shipping and “flash” or “lightning” sales are becoming a standard retail gimmick, with sites offering cheap prices for certain products for only a few hours at a time.

Since the sale window is so small, social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and even reputable blogs have become go-to places for consumers to find deals. There’s also the official website, cybermonday.com, which acts as a portal to featured e-commerce sites.

If this is the first you’ve heard of the event, don’t fret, Cyber Monday is rapidly turning into Cyber Week. And if you’re worried about getting caught browsing at work, you can always check here for some handy undercover shopping tricks.