Black Friday Versus Cyber Monday

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Black Friday may be the older shopping holiday, but Cyber Monday is giving it some serious competition, and you might find that the sanity-saving benefits of staying home make saving your money for Monday worthwhile.

What is Cyber Monday?
Although the origins of Black Friday are a bit hazy, Cyber Monday is a much more recent invention. The term was coined in 2005 by the National Retail Federation, and at the time it was more of an observation than a shopping holiday: People who were eager to continue their holiday shopping past the weekend would turn to online stores on Monday, often shopping from work.
Businesses were quick to step up to fill that demand, especially companies like Amazon with no physical presence. Cyber Monday provided these virtual retailers with an opportunity to compete with brick-and-mortar stores for the coveted holiday shopping dollar, and regular retailers were quick to join the trend by offering online sales that rivaled their own in-store door busters.

Now, over a decade later, Cyber Monday has become as well-known and respected of a shopping holiday as Black Friday. The Monday after Thanksgiving, retailer websites offer deep discounts on their items, ranging from soft goods to electronics to digital goods like ebooks. Many of these sales are time-sensitive, requiring buyers to log in and shop within a certain window of time. However, the ease of shopping through mobile devices makes it easy to catch even limited—time sales. Thanks to that, Cyber Monday is the biggest online shopping day of the year, generating the most sales across all online retailers.

When Should You Shop to Get the Best Deals?
“Black Friday” has come to mean a whole shopping season, not just a single day. The deals start as early as Thursday in many places, and intrepid shoppers may find that certain days yield better sales than others. Ultimately, the best day to go shopping comes down to your goals. What are you looking to buy? How much are you willing to spend? Would you rather pay a little bit more for convenience?

Here are some of the best things to buy on different days:
Electronics: Although “Cyber Monday” sounds like it would be a great day to shop for electronics, research suggests that the prices for popular items like cameras, TVs and tablets are actually lowest on Thanksgiving. However, these prices often drop at online retailers at the same time, so you can still lock in good prices without having to get up from the family feast.

Fashion: Cyber Monday is a clear winner for clothes and beauty. Online makeup sales are a popular source of deep discounts on Monday. You can also take advantage of lower prices on clothes and accessories through major online retailers all day long.

Toys: Black Friday sales on toys continue to provide great deals both in-store and online. If you’re looking for the latest craze for your kids this holiday season, Black Friday might be your best bet for snagging one; just be sure to set out early before they sell out.

Travel: You might not think to buy airfare and hotel rooms during Thanksgiving weekend, but these are increasingly popular areas for Cyber Monday discounts. Plan your holiday vacation in advance by booking a deeply discounted room online.

If you know in advance what you’re looking for, knowing where and how to find the right deal can help you plan your attack. Black Friday deals and coupons are often available up to a week in advance through “leaked” ads on various websites and social media. Cyber Monday ads aren’t always as widely distributed or accessible, but you can usually assume that your favorite online retailers will be running some sort of sale during the day; checking in throughout the weekend can help you snag sales as they arise.

Saving Your Sanity While Saving Money
For some people, shopping on Black Friday is an event itself, and the event is just as important, if not moreso, than actually saving money. These “ninja shoppers” get a thrill from lining up outside their favorite stores, elbowing crowds and scoping out the hottest sales weeks in advance. If you’re one of these people, there’s nothing wrong with filling up a thermos and waking up at 3 a.m. to attend a door buster sale.

However, if your goal is simply saving money on hot items, Cyber Monday may be a more relaxed and sanity-saving route.

You can check the deals from your phone while you’re in bed before work, or you can browse sales during your breaks at the office. You can shop at your leisure, without worrying about traffic, parking, crowds or the inevitable conflict when two people both want the same discounted television.

If you’re considering saving your sanity by skipping the holiday shopping and loading up on deals this Cyber Monday instead, you’re in good company. E-commerce is expected to grow at three times the rate of brick-and-mortar sales, with projected growth of over 11 percent as opposed to the average of 3.3 percent seen across all retailers. In other words: Cyber Monday and related online sales are becoming much more popular than their in-store counterparts.

In fact, Cyber Monday has become so popular that many retailers are jumping on the bandwagon early. Some shops are running Black Friday sales online that mirror the sales offered in their stores, allowing shoppers to cash in on the same deals without having to deal with crowds and hassles.

Which Day is Best?
Whether you plan to go all-out with your holiday shopping over Black Friday weekend or are just looking for the best opportunity to save a few dollars, knowing what to expect on which days can help you plan a strategy. Black Friday may be the older shopping holiday, but Cyber Monday is giving it some serious competition, and you might find that the sanity-saving benefits of staying home make saving your money for Monday worthwhile.

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