Is Cyber Monday still a thing?
That question has been asked more frequently in recent years, as retailers, in a breathless effort at corralling as many customers as they can, however they can, have been going further than ever in making in-store Black Friday deals available to online shoppers. According to early data, while Black Friday sales results this year are expected to be the biggest yet, much of that will be attributable to the enormous growth in online sales made during the day originally designed to bring foot traffic into retail locations.
According to Adobe Digital Insights, online Black Friday sales are expected to top $3 billion when the final numbers come available - that figure would represent an increase of 11.3% over 2015. Adobe’s predicted total figure is based on results from the first 8.5 hours of Black Friday shopping, which saw nearly $500 million spent during that period.
Indeed, the contribution of online purchases to total Black Friday sales is so great this year that analysts at Cowen & Co., a leading financial services and research firm, have informally renamed Black Friday as “couch Friday” because of the all the shopping now done from home that day.
As a result of the line between in-store and online savings continuing to disappear during Black Friday, many are now questioning whether there remains anything particularly special about Cyber Monday.
The answer is that while it’s true that great, “bottom line” online deals can now be had starting on Thanksgiving Day, Cyber Monday is still something to which you want to pay attention, especially if you’re in the market for some things that might not typically make your Christmas shopping list.
For example, Cyber Monday has evolved into a day for grabbing fantastic travel deals. According to Patrick Surry, the chief data scientist at Hopper, an airfare prediction app., anyone looking for flights to Europe and/or the Caribbean will likely see the biggest savings on Cyber Monday 2016. Also, says Surry, folks who will be happy traveling just about anywhere, and at any time, will be the ones who have the best chance of scoring a truly amazing travel bargain on Cyber Monday.
Still, for those more “typical” gifts you’re likely going to buy, Cyber Monday – which, at many retailers, becomes more like Cyber Week because of the duration of the sales - still presents a lot of opportunity. In fact, despite the great online deals that have already come available up to this point in the Christmas shopping season, it is said that this year’s Cyber Monday may be bigger than ever, and stores that will be making an especially big splash this year include Walmart, Target, and Macy’s.
Other retailers that principally do their regular business online have some very special sales planned. Computer giant Dell will begin its Cyber Monday extravaganza on Nov. 28 at 8 a.m. EST, and plans to announce hourly doorbuster deals throughout the day on laptops, televisions, gaming equipment, and assorted other “stuff” that appeals to techies.
Also, Overstock.com is touting that its Cyber Monday blowout will include “some of the most amazing online shopping promotions and giveaways of the year.” Overstock’s Cyber Monday sale is a two-day event, running Nov. 27 – Nov.28, and will see inventory prices cut by up to 75 percent, including on some of this year’s most sought-after consumer electronics items, like iPads and 4K TVs.
By the way, speaking of 4K TVs, although they’re expected to remain especially popular throughout the duration of the Christmas shopping season this year,a few words of caution if you’re thinking about grabbing one during your online Cyber Monday travels. While 4K televisions are among the hottest gifts right now, you might want to consider passing on buying one this season. For one thing, it is expected that the technology will vastly improve over the next couple of years. Also, even with the “deals,” prices are still a bit high right now precisely because the units are so new and popular. Additionally, and maybe this is the biggest reason for avoiding a 4K TV, presently…there are simply not many programs available in 4K just yet, which means that if your resolution stream is 1080, as it is for most, your new 4K TV will not get you anything in terms of an enhanced viewing experience.
All of that is expected to change in the coming years, but, for now, you might want to think about saving your 4K TV purchase money for use at that time.
Once Black Friday and Cyber Monday are fully in the rearview mirror, is that it for deals? Not at all. Retailers will continue to pursue customers by offering a wide variety of money-saving opportunities up until the time Santa is making his rounds on Christmas Eve. Amazon, for example, has announced that it will basically run Black Friday deals until December 22, saying that shoppers will be able to “find new deals as often as every five minutes” until that date.
In other words, don’t despair if you did not happen to take full advantage of Black Friday on Black Friday, or Cyber Monday on Cyber Monday; there will still be lots of chances to buy great stuff at deep discounts for the next several weeks.
Lastly, as you make your way through the stores during the rest of the shopping season, it’s a good idea to be aware of just what the online prices are for those items on your shopping list. While most retailers will not typically price match on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, once you get into December, those stores that do offer to match prices will resume doing so.
Black Friday is behind us, but Cyber Monday is upon us, and, with it, another array of opportunities to save big on this year’s most popular Christmas gifts. What’s more, there remain plenty of great deals to be had between now and Christmas, so if you find yourself with more to buy in the weeks to come, don’t despair - you should still expect to find deals galore right up until it’s time to start unwrapping presents.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large