For some people, Thanksgiving means family bonding and thoughtful praise. For others, Thanksgiving is the day before Black Friday, the biggest shopping holiday of the year. And as of late, Cyber Monday has joined Black Friday to make the entire weekend an important day for money-conscious shoppers.
But how can you take full advantage of Cyber Monday deals? Well, the strategies are a bit different than, say, getting up at 4 a.m. to camp outside of a department store or running through a mall to get the last toy, but there are definitely ways to make sure your virtual shopping cart—or wallet—end up empty. Here’s how you do it.
The plot on Black Friday
It’s tempting to sit around and wait until Cyber Monday to decide what you want. You definitely need to plan! In fact, try to have your basics down a few days earlier on Black Friday.
Visit the Stores Early
You don’t have to go to the stores on Black Friday or that weekend, as part of the reason to do Cyber Monday is to avoid the crazy post-Thanksgiving crowds. However, it may help to go before that weekend and get a feel for what you may want to purchase. Take note of the items that seem in demand or in short supply. On Cyber Monday, you can bet that those will be the first ones that will be scooped up.
Find Out About Sales Early
Grab your local newspaper on Thanksgiving day. If it’s like most holiday papers, it will be thick with lots of flyers, discounts, and sale information. The emphasis will be on Black Friday in-store sales, but now retailers will often include Cyber Monday online sales, too. The flyers will, of course, help you get an idea of what you want without going to the store.
If you do go to the store early, ask the salespeople if your favorite item is going on sale. Some employees will be nice enough to tell you what you should grab online and what you’ll have to purchase in person.
Set Your Alarm
You know how the best Black Friday shoppers set their alarms for insanely early hours, but manage to have all of their holiday shopping done by lunchtime? The same holds true for online Cyber Monday shopping. The big difference here is fast legs being replaced by quick mouse clicks.
As a Cyber Monday shopper, you’re dealing with the same issue as a Black Friday shopper: Limited stock of the product you want. A company only has so many items in its warehouse and, once they are gone, they may be sold out for the rest of the holiday season.
You want to be first in line online by:
- Checking websites to see what time Cyber Monday sales start.
- Browsing and making a list of what you want early—if they go on sale, you’ll be ready.
- Creating a “wish list” so your favorite items are already saved in the queue. Once any of them go on sale, it’s just a matter of moving the wish list items to your virtual shopping cart and checking out.
- If you feel secure about the website, save your credit card or bank information in its database so you can buy your purchase with one click. Remember, the item isn’t bought until your payment goes through!
Look for Sales Before and After Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday does focus on a particular day, but, like Black Friday, that doesn’t mean that sales don’t occur before or after that day. It just means that Cyber Monday informally begins the online holiday shopping season.
Depending on how serious you are, you’ll want to keep an eye out for online deals as early as Thanksgiving week and as late as New Year’s Day. More aggressive retailers are launching Cyber Monday deals on Thanksgiving Day (Cyber Thursday?), while other retailers, such as Amazon, have a new heavily-discounted item every day from Cyber Monday through Christmas Eve. In other words, depending on your needs, you can turn every holiday shopping day into Cyber Monday.
Use In-Store Pickup
There are few things as frustrating as missing out on your favorite item—particularly if it is heavily discounted. The good news is that some websites will allow you to look locally, or even regionally, for more products.
For instance, let’s say you want an amazing pair of socks, but the website supply is out of stock. See if there is an “in-store pickup” option. Type in your zip code or area and the website can tell you if any nearby stores have it in stock. If you’re lucky, the store will even take it off the shelf and hold the item for you, if only for a limited time.