Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away, meaning that the holiday season has officially begun, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the holiday shopping season begins as well. The changes that the pandemic has affected in every aspect of our lives include our celebrations. As we enter the busiest and most chaotic shopping season of the year yet again, we are seeing those affects amplified. Some of us, especially those of us who have last minute shopping to do, or who plan to participate in Cyber-Monday and or, Black Friday, could probably use some direction in navigating the continually muddying waters of the holiday shopping season as a whole. If you are one of those people, then read on and I will share some helpful information including some pros and cons of both Black Friday and Cyber-Monday, tips and tricks for navigating both, as well as some of the best things to shop for on Black Friday vs Cyber Monday. Please leave your own tips, tricks, and experiences in the comments below if you feel so inclined.
There are pros and cons to both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and with the influences of the internet and the pandemic alike, the lines between the two have blurred a bit. Yet, there are still ways in which the two are still very separate, with pros and cons to both.
Black Friday: Pros & Cons / What to Shop For
If you decide to go out and shop on black Friday, it is a given at this point that you will have to deal with the chaos of going out on what remains one of the busiest shopping days of the year, not to mention the loss of sleep and having to drive around to multiple locations in the middle of the night or the wee hours of the morning. This would be a lot any day of the year, but right after a Thanksgiving feast, it is truly a miracle so many people manage to do it every year. People usually overspend when bombarded with the sales and excess of Black Friday (we have all been there). Prices also tend to go down even more after Black Friday, as the holidays approach, and some retailers even raise prices leading up to Black Friday in order to make the deals seem more drastic. In the same vein, small shops cannot compete with the sales offered by big box retailers, making it harder to support small local businesses during the holiday season.
That being said, there are obviously pros to going out on Black Friday. For a lot of people, Black Friday Shopping is more about going out with friends and family for a unique holiday experience, but with the added bonus of all of the savings. You get a jump on the deals, you get to see, feel, and try on the items that you are buying, and sometimes there are surprise sales that were not advertised beforehand. You also do not have to pay for shipping or wait for an item to arrive. Black Friday has come to take place over the entire weekend instead of just one day, giving you more time to get in on the savings. Lastly, Black Friday sales are widely available online these days, so you do have the option to participate online if you wish.
All of that being said, what are the best items to purchase on Black Friday? According to my research (sources listed below), it seems like the best items to pick up during the Black Friday sales are going to be big ticket items such as TVs, gaming consoles, large appliances, and furniture, as well as toys, and doorbusters. Generally, it seems like this is the best time to buy things that you buy “one or less times per year”.
Black Friday: Tips and Tricks
- Make a Plan:
- Make a list of the stores you want to visit, and in what order.
- Make a shopping list (and label the items by importance).
- Create a budget with a little bit of wiggle room, but a firm limit. Pull cash to help you stick to the budget.
- Research the return and exchange policies, and sales of the stores that you plan to visit in advance.
- Sign up for email newsletters, follow the companies on social media, and bookmark websites of the places that you plan to shop to keep updated on deals and offers, and sign up for rewards programs to cash in on even more savings.
- Download apps to help you navigate stores (Walmart, target, etc all have apps that give you the ability to search for the aisle number of the item that you are looking for).
- Dress comfortably and warmly, but not so warmly that you will be overheating inside stores.
- Shop at least partially online.
- Check out Early bird Sales in the days leading up to Black Friday.
- Check back late in the day/ later in the weekend for last minute sales (retailers will be trying to get people into the stores all day).
- Get Gift Receipts!
- Go with a group of people if possible, or at least a friend. It will be a long night/day, and it is always better to have a friend for moral support, backup, and safety.
- Be aware of parking lots and the people who are around you in and outside of crowds.
- Do not put yourself in unnecessary positions (fighting over items, being in the front on a crowd as a place opens, etc)
- Keep your wallet, purse, phone, and other valuables close, and put your purchases out of sight in the trunk or under car seats when you are in other stores.
Cyber-Monday: Pros & Cons / What to Shop For
The cons for Cyber Monday are pretty much the same cons to ordering online any other time. You do not have the ability to see, feel, or try on the merchandise before you purchase it, you will have to wait for your merchandise to ship, and you may have to pay for shipping. Online returns can be a pain, websites with heavy traffic may be slow or crash, and you will not have access to doorbusters, or in-store specific sales. Last but not least, if you work on the weekdays, you will have to shop around your schedule, and you only have one day to get it all done.
Despite these cons, the sales do tend to be slightly better on Cyber Monday than on Black Friday, and you don’t even have to leave your couch. It is much faster and easier to price compare and shop from multiple retailers when you don’t need to wait on slow public WIFI, or physically drive from place to place. It is also easier to keep track of the money that you are spending when you aren’t also dodging crowds, running from place to place, and trying to keep track of a million receipts.
It seems like the best things to shop for on Cyber Monday, are going to be electronics such as laptops and computers, phones, smart home accessories, and wearable tech, as well as clothing and travel bookings. Overall, this is the best time to pick up your smaller ticket items, vacation bookings, and items to give as gifts.
Cyber-Monday: Tips and Tricks
- Make a Plan
- Research past deals to get an idea of what items may be on sale this year.
- Research shipping and return policies, fees, and price histories of the sites that you plan to shop on.
- Always Check Reviews.
- Bookmark sites that you want to shop on, follow them on social media, and sign up for their newsletters and rewards programs to stay aware of deals.
- Create an email address solely for holiday shopping, to keep your regular email’s inbox from being cluttered. Create accounts for the sites you plan to shop on in advance. Add items to your cart, and then leave them. You will likely begin to receive coupons and offers with the goal of getting you to return and make the purchases, not to mention, the price may go down as it gets closer to the holidays.
- Make a List of items that you need/want.
- Create a budget with a little bit of wiggle room, but a firm limit. Using gift cards or preloaded cards can help with this as well as keep you safer online.
- Create a spreadsheet containing links, offers, etc… so that you don’t forget about anything in the moment.
- Shop Smart
- Download a price comparison tool, and a browser extension to find discount codes.
- Create or use a PayPal account for faster checkouts.
- Shop with a rewards card or cash-back app.
- Resist upsells and add ons, stick to that budget.
- Shop incognito. This can help you to get access to deals and offers that your search and purchase history would otherwise make you ineligible for.
- Make sure you are using reputable websites.
Predictions for 2021? What do you think?
As of now, the question is, will people come out in droves this year because of the limited ability to go out last year, or will they stay home because they are still being cautious or because it really is just nicer to online shop from the couch in PJs while digesting the huge meal you have more than likely just consumed? What do you think? Would you rather go out this year, shop from home, or maybe a combination of both? What are you planning to do? Let me know in the comments. Whatever way you choose to shop this holiday season, there are ways for you to do it safely and comfortably. Remember to check out the sales going on now through Cyber-Monday at Fifthroom.com!