Tis the season to be shopping. If you thought the hype around Black Friday was huge, brace yourself: Cyber Monday is expected to be even bigger. In fact, it’s set to break all records and yield the highest online sales in history.
Online shoppers are expected to spend US$2.27 billion this Cyber Monday, 15 per cent more than in 2012, according to the Adobe Digital Index 2013 Online Shopping Forecast.
And last year, Cyber Monday sales surpassed Black Friday online sales and were 30 per cent higher than in 2011, according to IBM Digital Analytics.
So what can consumers expect today?
“What we’re seeing is a whole mixed bag of stuff,” says Adrienne Down Coulson, general manager of Ebates.ca, a cash-back online shopping site. “Some stores will continue the same deals they had on Black Friday; others are refreshing deals, taking down the Black Friday deals … and switching to Cyber Monday deals.
“We’re seeing a range of stuff on sale, everything from big appliances to jewellery and everything in between,” she adds. “This year, we [EBates.ca] are expecting it to be at least double what we did last year.”
How good are the deals online?
In some cases, shoppers will find even greater bargains today than they did this past Friday.
“We [EBates.ca] have the Loft [Ann Taylor]: on Monday that sale is going to be 50 per cent off everything in store, while on Black Friday it was 40 per cent,” Down Coulson says. “Indigo looks better on Monday, with 60 per cent off [select items] plus 50 per cent off on top-selling books.
“At the lower end of the spectrum, there’s Aldo offering 15 per cent off plus free shipping,” she adds, noting that other stores jumping on the Cyber Monday blitz include Blue Nile, Mexx Canada, Kate Spade, among many others.
“These [sales] all sound pretty aggressive,” she says. “We’re not seeing too much where stores aren’t participating.”
However, just because some retailers are offering even deeper discounts on Cyber Monday than they did on Black Friday doesn’t necessarily mean unbeatable deals are guaranteed across the board.
“I wouldn’t call it a rule,” Down Coulson says. Then there’s also the potential for things being out of stock; she recommends people get up early if they want to get what they’re looking for.
The most-frequently searched retailers on Cyber Monday last year included Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, Sears, and Target, according to CNN Money.
It’s not just retailers that are using Cyber Monday to boost sales. So are some hotels, offering up to 40 per cent off, while some banks are increasing the number of rewards points for purchases made with their credit or debit cards.
Aside from discounts that Cyber Monday offers, online shopping means you don’t have to deal with crowds, lineups, and retail hours. According to Deloitte’s annual Holiday Survey, the Internet will be the top location people will shop at this year, along with discount stores.
Keep your spending under control
To avoid going overboard on the biggest online-shopping day of the year, consider writing out a list of items you’re looking for and sticking to it. “Any impulse buys that are not on your list will only result in big credit-card bills next month,” says Jeffery Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counselling Solutions of Canada Inc. And compare prices before you click Finished on the site’s Checkout section. “Most retailers will offer to beat their competitor’s prices,” Schwartz says. “If you find a better deal somewhere else, be sure to ask for the price match guarantee.”
Blair Mantin, VP of Sands & Associates, a B.C. firm of licensed trustees in bankruptcy and consumer proposal administrators, says online shopping can easily lead to over-shopping.
“The ease of online shopping has made purchasing items as easy as one click, an act that’s far removed from the pain of handing over cash,” Mantin says. “As a result, it can be a slippery slope that can quickly spiral out of control, landing consumers into unexpected debt.
“Watch out for deals that require you to spend a minimum dollar amount for free shipping,” he adds. “You may find yourself overspending on things you don’t necessarily need. Be sure you’re aware of the sale details and the return policy before taking advantage of any discount.”