The choice between Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping may seem simple: Do you want to experience the annual in-store bonanza, or would you rather be cozy at home clicking through sales? Of course, there are many people that stretch their holiday shopping over both days and beyond. And it turns out, there's a good reason for you to do so.
Retailers tend to offer deep discounts on select categories on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday, which means it's worth your while to strategize a bit. Instead of buying the latest and greatest electronics, pajama sets, and must-have toys on the same day, you'll want to plan ahead.
It’s worth mentioning that while Black Friday still draws millions of shoppers to brick-and-mortar stores, it’s not the same time-honored tradition that it used to be, with many consumers shopping online instead of in-store.1 Retailers have responded by offering specials in-store only or, on the other hand, discounts exclusively online.
Read on for our recommendation for the best day to buy particular gifts on your shopping list.
Black Friday bargains
Every year, the focus of Black Friday tends to be electronics (and the shoppers who spend hours camped outside big-box stores). Which makes sense, given that TVs, tablets, laptops and smartphones often have the deepest discounts on Black Friday, and increasingly in the last year or two, also on Thanksgiving Day.2 Just be sure you’re getting the top model you want, because sometimes retailers consider Black Friday the perfect time to sell off-brand and older merchandise at sharp discounts.
Those aren't the only items with the best markdowns, though. Look for special discounts on home goods, especially countertop kitchen appliances like coffeemakers, toasters, crockpots, stand mixers and sandwich makers. You'll also see low prices on container sets, dishes and other kitchen goods, as well as specially marked home improvement gifts like drill sets and power tools.
If you’re in the market for a new home appliance like a dishwasher or a washing machine, you’re in luck too: these are among the very best deals on Black Friday.3
Cyber Monday scores
If apparel is what you're after, you'll want to shop on Cyber Monday. Some websites offer as much as 60 percent off clothing and shoes, coupled with any other coupons and discounts that may be sent to your home or inbox. So be sure to check your email - and the fine print of any offers or coupons - before proceeding to checkout. Retailers also often have free shipping, since products like clothes and shoes cost less to ship than many other holiday items.
One note though: for clothes, you'll often find the best deals as you get closer and closer to the end of December. Of course, waiting until the end is a gamble though, as the sizes you need may be already sold out. For some shoppers that enjoy the thrill of the chase though, it could be well worth the price difference.
Beyond clothing and shoes on Cyber Monday, you’ll also see bargains for toys, games and holiday photos – giving you an extra incentive to get that family holiday card finished early.
Do your research
Whether you decide to partake in Black Friday or Cyber Monday, remember that just because an item is marked down doesn't necessarily mean it's a good deal. One study found that nearly 20 percent of items on sale for Black Friday were actually more expensive than they were the week before.4 So it pays to do a little browsing ahead of time.