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What Is Cyber Monday – Get the Best Online Shopping Deals

By Miranda Marquit

cyber monday shoppingMany people associate the day after Thanksgiving with Black Friday shopping. However, thanks to the Internet and the ability it gives us to shop from home, you can still score great deals once Black Friday has ended.

In fact, one of the biggest shopping days of the year is the Monday after Thanksgiving. But this day isn’t known for shopping at brick-and-mortar stores – on this day, it’s all about the Internet.

The Origin of Cyber Monday

In November 2004, retail industry researchers identified unusual online sales activity on the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday. Specifically, researchers found that Internet shopping on this day increased by 78% in 2004 over the previous year. To create extra buzz and publicity, Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation, coined the term “Cyber Monday” in 2005.

Designating this additional special shopping day allowed stores to continue the sales momentum created by Black Friday. Many retailers have jumped into the fray, offering special deals and discounts on their websites. Since 2005, Cyber Monday sales have increased each year. In fact, according to comScore, a company that measures digital business analytics and online sales trends, shoppers broke all records when they surpassed the $1 billion online sales barrier on Cyber Monday of 2010. That’s $1 billion in online sales in a single day.

Who Shops on Cyber Monday?

People at Work

According to comScore, people at work account for more than 50% of the purchases made on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Evidently, even after Black Friday and Saturday sales, consumers still want to shop. Many speculate that employees shop from work in part to keep gifts for family members a surprise.

Studies indicate that Cyber Monday has a negative effect on business and work productivity. In 2010, a researcher at Purdue University stated that on average, online shoppers spend about 45 minutes shopping online. Another researcher, Richard Feinberg, estimates that the loss in productivity on Cyber Monday amounts to $1 billion.

People at Home

The notoriety of heavy Thanksgiving weekend traffic and Black Friday crowds keep many people off the roads and away from the malls. Cyber Monday allows enthusiasts to shop from the comfort of their homes, without confronting large crowds and busy roads. In addition, people can find unusual, sold out, and hard-to-find items online, further enhancing the appeal of this shopping holiday.

Canadians

According to the National Post, 80% of Canadians participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Because a significant number of these sales occur on U.S. retailers’ websites, many Canadian retailers now offer deals on the days following the U.S. celebration of Thanksgiving.

Canadian Thanksgiving occurs in early October, and the country’s biggest shopping day usually occurs on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. Canadian retailers now offer Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in an effort to keep dollars in Canada.

People From Countries Around the World

The popularity of Cyber Monday has exploded worldwide, as international retailers continue to look for new ways to attract Christmas shoppers. In addition to Canada, different websites in various countries around the world have used the term Cyber Monday to increase sales. Other nations that have their own Cyber Monday sales include the United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal, France, and New Zealand.

cyber monday shopping

How to Make the Most of Cyber Monday

Everyone likes to get a good deal. If you are looking to maximize your Cyber Monday efforts, use these seven tips to get the most bang for your buck:

1. Plan Ahead of Time
Some retailers send email alerts or text alerts to consumers, offering information about special deals. Additionally, websites like CyberMonday.com offer insight into what deals will be offered at various websites. Visit these websites to find out which retailers will have the items you want, and plan your online shopping accordingly.

2. Get an Early Start
Just as some brick-and-mortar stores have started opening their doors for Black Friday at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night, some online sellers have started offering Cyber Monday deals on Sunday evening. If you want to buy a specialty item that may sell out, begin shopping on Sunday.

3. Comparison Shop
Use tools to quickly compare prices online. A web browser add-on like Invisible Hand lets you compare prices as you shop online. PriceGrabber and similar websites can also help you find the best prices for the gifts you want to buy.

4. Don’t Forget Coupons and Promo Codes
Use online coupons and promo codes on Cyber Monday to boost your savings. Sign up for alerts from major coupon sites like RetailMeNot to get access to more deals. You can also check FreeShipping.org for promo codes that result in free delivery.

5. Be Fast
Remember that a lot of the hype surrounding Cyber Monday is due to limited quantities and the possibility that items will sell out. You have to act fast if you want the best deals.

6. Be Safe
Stick to shopping with top online retailers that you trust, and check the return policies ahead of time, just in case you want to return an item you purchase. Avoid shady websites, and double-check your computer’s security. Update your computer security software before Cyber Monday in order to reduce the chance of a virus or malware.

Before entering your financial information, check the address bar for the “lock” icon, or for the “s” at the end of the “http.” That way you will know if you are on a secure site. You can even acquire virtual credit card numbers for your Cyber Monday shopping to increase your online security. You can only use the numbers once, so identity thieves can’t use them even if they get a hold of them. Lastly, be sure to protect your social security number.

7. Earn Rewards
Use your rewards credit card for all of your Christmas shopping. You can quickly earn and redeem points for travel or cash back rewards, but make sure that you pay off the balance as soon as possible. You can only maximize your rewards if you don’t carry a balance, as interest fees offset the value of your miles or cash back. For example, the Chase Freedom credit card offers up to 5% cash back on purchases from department stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and charities between October and December.

You can also shop and get cash back using websites like FatWallet and Ebates. You simply access retailers through these sites and earn rewards on your purchases.

Final Word

Cyber Monday has become a significant online shopping day. You can find deals and save money on your Christmas shopping without ever leaving your home – or work! However, you do need to plan ahead to save the most money. Find out which retailers will offer the best deals on items you want. Do as much prep work as you can ahead of time, including identifying coupon codes and free shipping deals.

Do you shop on Cyber Monday? What’s your best trick for getting what you want on the biggest online shopping day of the year?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit is a freelance writer and professional blogger specializing in personal finance. She writes for several web sites, and her work has appeared in numerous online and offline publications. You can find Miranda's personal finance blog at AllBusiness.com.

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