Haven’t finished (or started) your holiday shopping yet but can’t bear the crowds again?
The National Retail Federation says consumers plan to spend an average of $688.87 on holiday shopping this year, up slightly from $681.83 in 2009. That means the sea of shoppers you swim through each year isn’t getting much shallower.
Whether you want to finalize your mostly completed shopping list or tackle it in one hardy lunge, follow these tips to capitalize on deals for Cyber Monday, the online version of Black Friday, and avoid the brick-and-mortar crowds.
Many Monday sales aren’t posted yet, so sign up for e-mail alerts from your favorite retailers to receive first notice. Better yet, follow them on Facebook or Twitter for the most up-to-date info. You can always unfollow, unfriend or unsubscribe from them later.
If you do have the time, energy and heart to hit the malls and shopping centers, try out items such as cameras, cell phones and TVs in person. The way a camera operates, how a cell phone feels in your hand or the quality of a TV’s image can’t be replicated on a website, and you’ll be confident with an online purchase if you do some tactile research. Plus, you can scope out in-store prices for comparison.
Most retailers have a limited stock of door-buster items, so don’t expect to idly shop online if you’re at work Monday morning. (Walmart.com already sold out of a deeply discounted Blu-ray player on Wednesday last week — twice.) Some sales will start as soon as midnight Sunday, so check websites in advance. Or be prepared to wake up early. Really early. A good rule of thumb: The more fantastic the deal, the earlier you need to get there.
Most retailers will offer free shipping Monday. In fact, you’re almost getting ripped off if they don’t. Walmart, Target and Best Buy are among the retailers offering free shipping online for certain products or with a minimum purchase.
Unlike Black Friday, there aren’t many websites truly dedicated to Cyber Monday. Most are just place-holders for ads, rather than aggregating the Cyber Monday info you’ll need to know. Instead of scouring those sites, do a quick hunt for promotional codes for the retailer you plan to purchase from. Sites like retailmenot.com or couponcabin.com will be helpful once Monday rolls around.
- By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog