Black Friday deals have been available for so long now, it almost feels like the day after Thanksgiving will be a last hoorah, rather than the big kickoff of the holiday shopping season.
The shockingly low sale prices that usually have people clamoring to get through the doors of their local Best Buy or Walmart have steadily been made available since basically mid-October. With so many deals already circulating (and possibly even already wrapped under your Christmas tree), you might be wondering: Is Cyber Monday even going to be a thing this year?
Best Deals on Black Friday or Cyber Monday?
Every year, shoppers wonder whether Black Friday or Cyber Monday will have the best deals, and whether it's better to shop online or in stores. But over the past few years, the big doorbuster sales people have come to expect on Black Friday are equally available online, and they have often been up for grabs before and after Black Friday itself, no doorbusting necessary.
“In previous years, the deals on Black Friday were more specific while on Cyber Monday you’d see site-wide sales that tended to be more broad,” says Trae Bodge, a shopping expert helping consumers save money at TrueTrae.com.
Cyber Monday originally started back in 2005, when less than half of the country had broadband internet access in their homes. The idea was that people would return to the offices after their Thanksgiving weekends, log onto their desktops, and shop from there with the convenience of high-speed internet. Retailer websites often made it easy (and extra tempting) to shop online on Cyber Monday with deals like 40% or 50% off everything.
More recently, though, this sales strategy of offering promo codes for a flat 50% off everything has been extended to Thanksgiving and Black Friday too. So now, 15 years after Cyber Monday was born, in the midst of a global pandemic when almost everyone is shopping online, the differences between Black Friday and Cyber Monday seem almost nonexistent.
“In the past few years, Black Friday and Cyber Monday had been melding together already and that really took hold this year,” says Amy Sewell, a consumer brands spokesperson who runs Shop With Style With Amy Sewell.
This year, Black Friday shopping will primarily be done online, so the event is more like Cyber Monday than it's been in the past. At the same time, nearly everyone readily has access to broadband internet, and retailers host Cyber Monday-like deals for weeks around Thanksgiving — so there isn't much reason for Cyber Monday to exist as a phenomenon dedicated to online shopping.
What does this mean for shoppers? The big takeaway is that you don't need to make all of your holiday shopping purchases on any particular day. There are definitely benefits to reap from shopping on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and in the weeks afterward for that matter, so long as you're approaching the task with smart strategies for saving money.
Although sales and promotions will continue into the next month, it may be wise to take care of major electronic purchases like smart TVs and wireless headphones early. Why? Some retailers might run out of inventory, especially on the season's hottest buys. There’s also the chance that if you order too late, you’ll face major shipping delays as more people shop online than ever before.
You're also assured to find pretty amazing deals on things like TVs, Instant Pots, vacuum cleaners, and headphones while shopping during the week of Thanksgiving. “Black Friday typically is great for electronics and that’s no different this year,” says Bodge.
Smaller items like beauty products, toys, and clothing are more likely to still be available on Cyber Monday, and might even be more deeply discounted as retailers like Amazon roll out daily Lightning Deals for Prime members.
Shop Small Business Saturday Too
Before you commit to your Black Friday or Cyber Monday plans, it could also be a good idea to consider what will be available during the lesser-known shopping holiday, Small Business Saturday. Independent craftsmen and small business owners (along with their employees) have taken major hits as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep the nation.
Although Small Business Saturday has been happening since 2010, there has been a major push this year to support local economies by shopping small, even when it’s being done online. You can check out your preferred retailer’s social media platform and website to find out how you can support them, or use a small business e-commerce site like Etsy to support independent sellers. The discounts may not be as deep as big box retailers, but you're more likely to find special, one-of-a-kind gifts from small businesses and artisans. Your purchase will also probably go a lot further by helping small businesses keep the lights on and pay their workers.