If you’re one of those crack-of-dawn, post-Thanksgiving shoppers who likes fighting for parking spaces, standing in long lines, and engaging in arm-to-arm combat over the one $50 TV left, then this article isn’t for you.
For the rest of you, sit back, grab your computer (or your phone), and get ready to take advantage of history-making holiday online deals that are likely to include better shipping and more phone-friendly options.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest shopping days of the year. Last year saw an 18 percent jump in online sales from the year before, and this year is expected to be even bigger.
Forbes found nearly half of all 2017 online shoppers took advantage of the big warehouse companies like Amazon because of their great shipping deals. That’s why smaller retailers are expected to roll out cheaper and faster shipping.
Mobile sales were strong throughout the entire shopping season, with smartphones accounting for around half of all transactions on Christmas and Thanksgiving Days, according to e-commerce platform and technology provider Salesforce Inc. Commerce Cloud. That’s likely to translate into more phone-friendly sales options this year.
Pick Your Sites
We won’t know the sites with the very best deals until Black Friday actually gets here. But, based on last year, and in anticipation of this year, you’ll want to keep an eye on big retail outlets like Amazon, Walmart, and Overstock. Cash back sites like Kohl’s are almost always sure to save you money. TechBargains.com has some of the best electronic deals (but check them against Best Buy). For upscale purchases, Nordstrom is known for its blow-out holiday deals online. For handmade, original items, you can’t beat Etsy.
Pick Your Items
No sale is a good sale if it gets you to buy items you’ll never use. By making a list of the people you’re buying for and items they may like, you’ll be able to zero in on the best deals by shopping around. You’ll also know what to look for during those limited-time, lightning deals that more and more companies are offering.
In November expect the best deals to be on electronics, TVs, gaming systems, and smart gadgets.
Also, don’t forget about the best gifts of all–experiences. Cyber Monday is one of the best days to scoop up incredible travel deals. You can buy a vacation gift or take advantage of deeply discounted hotel rooms for an after-holiday long weekend.
Pick Your Dates
Now is the time to start shopping for toys. They tend to get more expensive as the holidays get closer. Also, check Amazon for daily lightning deals–items that are on sale for only a few hours until they sell out. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you can find some blockbuster deals. Last year, they offered $100 cashmere sweaters for $20, but the sale was over within a couple hours.
In the weeks leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, expect big deals on off-brand electronics. But beware: around this time, stores often start offering early-bird specials that are little more than their regular weekly specials labeled as pre-holiday deals. As a rule of thumb, the consumer shopping guide Real Simple recommends only buying gifts that are at least 20 percent off and that you were going to buy anyway.
Another pro tip: when websites advertise sales over the weekend, wait until the following Monday to buy. By then competitors often match prices or even start a price war.
Early November – Early December
While Black Friday is the biggest shopping day in brick-and-mortar stores, Cyber Monday usually has the best online deals. Note: this is not the case for general-interest sites, like Amazon or Walmart, that also offer huge Black Friday deals. Expect good deals on just about everything.
Cyber Monday is when you’ll likely find the biggest and best deals online. Look for sitewide specials like 30 or 40 percent off entire inventories. Last season, Urban Outfitters’ online shop knocked 40 percent off all its outerwear (and who in Colorado doesn’t love outerwear?); Banana Republic’s website took 15 percent off all purchases, and sitewide discounts were offered at Old Navy, Lord & Taylor, and Barneys New York.
December 21 – December 24
Right before Christmas is the best time to buy big-ticket items like TVs, furniture, and fine jewelry. As the big day approaches, these items are likely to get even cheaper. Keep in mind, selection also drops, and once a good deal is gone, you’ve missed it. So, if it’s something you really want, and it’s a good price, go ahead and pull the trigger. Also remember those last minute deals often include higher overnight or two-day shipping costs.
After Holiday Sales
Sad but true, the very best holiday deals come after the holidays. Decorations are up to 80 percent off on December 26, and some of the best deals of the year can be found mid-January when there’s leftover inventory from after holiday sales. This is a great time to get a jump on next year’s shopping.