The question comes up every year for holiday shoppers, “Should I take advantage of Black Friday or wait a few more days for Cyber Monday?” This year, it’s even more confusing, given the plethora of early Black Friday sales and daily deals offered by Amazon, Walmart and some of the biggest retailers.
But despite the early sales and fight for every shopping dollar in a holiday season impacted by inflation, retailers are still going big on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. After all, their livelihood depends on their success this time of year.
The shopping events also serve as critical indicators to the health of their businesses during a highly competitive holiday season, noted Harvey Ma, senior VP of Omni, Consumer & Retail Performance of North America at NielsenIQ.
“These events signal who consumers are ‘voting’ for and who they have selected to feed, delight, surprise and entertain their personal networks,” Ma said. “And the ones who get it right across all facets of the consumer experience will win, not just on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but likely throughout the holiday season and beyond.”
Because the holiday season as a whole is such a crucial time for retailers to rake in profits, you’ll see both Black Friday and Cyber Monday bombarded with sales. But these two shopping events aren’t quite created equal.
“Cyber Monday tends to outperform Black Friday for online discounts, with the best deals of any during the five days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday but not by a significant amount,” said Jonathan Silver, founder and CEO of Affinity Solutions, a global insights firm tracking consumer purchasing habits.
Though Cyber Monday has just a slight edge over Black Friday in terms of savings, the choice depends on your holiday gift list. “It really comes down to what you’re shopping for,” said Kyle James, the founder of Rather-Be-Shopping.com. To help you prepare, here’s a breakdown of Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday.
Shop For Doorbuster TVs on Black Friday
In some cases, Black Friday sales — specifically doorbuster deals — trump Cyber Monday.
The Black Friday doorbusters, which often are available online on Thanksgiving Day, offer shoppers the best chance to score the lowest prices on some televisions. James said it’s a fantastic time to get a deal on an off-brand sets, but for higher-end TVs, though, he recommends bypassing both Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
“You’ll want to look for deals right after Christmas through February,” he said. “New models are typically released in late January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. Plus, sellers always offer sweet deals starting two weeks before the Super Bowl.”
Retailers typically have terrific sales on tools on Black Friday, too.
Black Friday Allows More Preparation Time
Another perk of Black Friday is that these sales tend to be advertised ahead of time, so you have more opportunity to get ready for them. Many shoppers begin poring over the ads and store websites early in the week to develop a shopping list and strategy. Other get the turkey in the oven on Thanksgiving morning, then rummage through that day’s traditionally thick newspaper to review the sales circulars.
Look at all the ads – even the stores where you don’t normally shop, especially small businesses in your area that rely on holiday revenues. You might find a terrific value or a unique gift idea.
When it comes to Cyber Monday, some of those ads don’t start appearing online or in your email until Black Friday winds down. You’ll have much less time to find the best deals than you did for Black Friday.
Shop Cyber Monday for Gaming Systems and Winter Apparel
If a gaming system is on your list, Cyber Monday probably will offer the best deal, James said.
“Cyber Monday is an excellent day to shop for both the popular XBox and PlayStation,” he said. “Always look to bundle as that is where you’ll get the most savings. Bundles usually include the gaming system, an extra controller and a popular game.”
And if you want to bundle up with some new winter apparel, wait until Monday for that too, James said.
“Cyber Monday is way better than Black Friday,” he said. “Online retailers always roll out big coupons and sales on warm clothing that beats anything you’ll see on Black Friday.”
Nab the Deal on Black Friday
Although Cyber Monday might have better savings opportunities on key categories — savvy shoppers might not want to wait the extra few days.
In fact, if you see that gaming system your son wants at a decent price on Black Friday, buy it. Even if you think you could grab it for less on Monday, it could be sold out after the long weekend. Ask at the store where you buy if it has a price-match guarantee, just in case. Such guarantees often aren’t good on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Some Argue You Shouldn’t Even Wait Until Black Friday
Many consumers began their holiday shopping in October — highlighting that the smartest move of all is to buy sooner than later.
If you are dead set on a certain toy or other product this holiday season, don’t risk waiting for a deal to pop up.
“Make sure to start early even if you think there might be a deal coming, you might miss the opportunity to buy that popular toy just to save a few bucks,” said Ian Sells, CEO and co-founder of RebateKey.com.
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Nicole Spector contributed to the reporting for this article.