We’re prepping our stomachs and bank accounts for Thanksgiving this year and it turns out, we’re not alone. Shoppers are predicted to dial up their spending on the two most anticipated shopping events of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. According to the National Retail Federation, this year shoppers are forecasted to spend up to 4 percent more than they did during the 2018 holiday season, while retail sales are expected to grow between 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent. To avoid the shopping frenzy—and have more time to focus on the leftover pie—we’re breaking down the Cyber Monday and Black Friday discounts, so you can keep your wallet happy (and your sanity in check).
Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday: What’s the Difference?
The term “Black Friday” is said to date back to the 1960s when police in Philadelphia used the phrase to reference the bad traffic and uptick in accidents associated with day-after Thanksgiving shopping. Somehow the not-so-pleasant term stuck around and became synonymous with the bargain hunting extravaganza we know it to be today. Cyber Monday, on the other hand, was created only in 2005 as a marketing term to help online retailers cash in on the post-Turkey Day spending. Aside from the sales taking place on different days, the biggest difference between the two is that Black Friday sales can be found in physical stores and online, while Cyber Monday sales are exclusive to the web.
When Is Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
This year, Black Friday will take place on November 29, 2019, but we bet big brands will start offering sales as early as the beginning of November (Amazon has been known to do a month-long ‘Countdown to Black Friday’ event). Despite online pre-sales, in-store markdowns won’t begin until Thanksgiving Day, with special offers rolling out on Friday and some even continuing through the weekend. But retailers aren’t going to leave you hanging on Cyber Monday. Special online sales from retailers will drop three days later on December 2, 2019.
Does Black Friday or Cyber Monday Have Better Sales?
The short answer: Cyber Monday has slightly better overall deals. According to Honey, a discount-shopping browser extension, last year’s Cyber Monday average savings (per user, per purchase) peaked at 21 percent, while Black Friday savings topped out at 18.5 percent, as reported by Business Insider. However, you’ll want to consider what you’re purchasing when planning which day to score the steepest savings. Here’s what we’ve found from past Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales:
What to Buy on Black Friday
If you’re shopping for electronics, Black Friday is historically the best time to find the lowest prices on big ticket items like TVs, home appliances and gaming consoles, according to BlackFriday.com. While most Black Friday sales can be shopped online too, the biggest things to scope out beforehand are doorbusters (special offerings for a store’s first customers) and in-store bundles. Expect to see these available at big name retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Kohl’s.
What to Buy on Cyber Monday
More interested in updating your wardrobe than your home theater? You should hold out until Cyber Monday when we’ve seen retailers offer site-wide sales and insane discounts to peruse from your desk on Monday morning—just make sure your boss doesn’t have their eyes on your computer screen. BlackFriday.com also suggests purchasing laptops, online subscriptions (think Audible and Spotify), smaller tech gadgets and travel on this day.
Insider tip: If you see a great Black Friday deal on an item you’ve had your eye on, snap it up before it sells out. If you see a better discount on Cyber Monday, return it and purchase it again at its lower price...just make sure you know the store's return policy beforehand.
How to Prepare for the Best Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals
Here’s how to get the most bang for your buck during the holiday shopping season:
- Sign up for retailers’ newsletters. Stay on top of specific brand’s or store’s sale offerings by subscribing to their newsletters before the big events (some may even announce special deals and promo codes here). Use your smartphone’s inbox search day-of to reference any discounts on-the-go.
- Follow stores on social media. You don’t have to go out of your way to discover sales. Look out for Black Friday and Cyber Monday announcements on the platforms you already check constantly throughout the day, whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or all three.
- Google "brand name" + "promo code" before purchase. This quick search ensures you’re getting the best deal, before you hit that "Buy Now" button. Some retailers offer price matching, so you might even be able to use the results of this search in an actual store.
- Check an Amazon product’s price history. If you’re making a purchase on Amazon, enter the product link into CamelCamelCamel to see if it has ever been offered on the site at a lower price. If so, you may want to wait for a better deal to arise at a later date.
- Price matching. Big stores like Target and Best Buy offer a price-match guarantee if you can show that the same item is being sold for less at another retailer.