About 122 million Americans will shop online on Cyber Monday, according to Shop.org. That’s only slightly less than the 147 million who shop in brick-and-mortar stores over the Black Friday weekend.
That means retailers treat online shopping as an opportunity for huge sales.
If you want to find a deal amid the Cyber Monday wars, you are competing with a tech-savvy bunch. But don’t worry: Retailers have made it easy for casual Internet shoppers this year. You’ll find bargains as long as you know where to look.
Q. Is it weird that I don’t understand what Cyber Monday is?
A. Shop.org, a branch of the National Retail Federation, coined the term in 2005 after reports that more than 70 percent of retailers experienced surges in sales on the Monday after Black Friday. But this season, Cyber Monday is more of a sale concept than a precise day as holiday shopping days are happening earlier.
Q. So, I shouldn’t wait until Monday to look for these sales?
A. No, start preparing now. Some stores will announce Cyber Monday deals before Monday, so if you’re planning on shopping at 12:01 a.m., you’ll want to know what’s on sale. Stores will also announce different sales throughout the day. And many retailers, including Dell and Overstock.com, have started their sales already. Go to TheBlackFriday.com for a list of all Cyber Monday-related sales.
Q. I did my big-box shopping on Friday. Do I need to shop on Cyber Monday?
A. There are a few reasons you should check out your favorite retailers on Monday. Big-box stores offer both in-store sales and Web-only sales, and the products they’re selling online on Monday will be different than Thanksgiving night. Moreover, they want you on their sites and will offer deals to get you there. Retailers love when you buy from websites: Not only can they chronicle your preferences and spending habits, but they can direct you through the shopping experience and control the products you see. (You know how Amazon suggests other products you might like? Retailers can’t do that in the store.) You actually have more freedom to control your experience in a store.
Q. What’s the best way to learn about the deals?
A. This is a Web event, so you need to be plugged in. Sign up for e-mail alerts from your favorite retailers. You can cancel the alerts Tuesday. You should also visit stores’ Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.
Q. I have a Twitter account. Whom should I follow for Cyber Monday?
A. Twitter issued a Cyber Monday guide, encouraging users to follow accounts such as @PriceGrabber, @RetailMeNot, @MoneySavinQueen, and @CouponCabin — some of which ShopSmart and other deal-hunting experts tell people to use year-round.
Q. Should I pay for shipping?
A. Many of the largest retailers are offering free shipping this season. If you’re not having luck finding free shipping on Cyber Monday, Free Shipping Day is Dec. 17. To find out who is offering free shipping on Cyber Monday, go to CyberMonday.com.
Katherine Boyle writes for the Washington Post.