For decades, Black Friday was the ultimate day for bargain shopping. But in the past few years, Cyber Monday has come to replace it as the biggest annual shopping event in the US.
What is Cyber Monday?
Cyber Monday traditionally comes three days after Black Friday — the Monday after, natch — and revolves around online deals. Generally speaking, tech products are more widely discounted than anything else on this day.
Believe it or not, but Cyber Monday is now even bigger than Black Friday — retail sales in 2019 were expected to top $10 billion and came mighty close at $9.4 billion total.
Is Cyber Monday better than Black Friday?
In short, yes. “When comparing the two days last year, we noticed more savings on Cyber Monday, as consumers shifted their purchasing channels online,” said Ted Donath, Vice President of Communications for the coupon- and discount-shopping browser extension Honey.
Honey’s research showed that last year’s Cyber Monday average savings (per user, per purchase) peaked at 21%, while Black Friday savings peaked at 18.5%. DealNews also reported last year that it posted more “Editor’s Choice” deals on Cyber Monday than it did on Black Friday.
That said, overall savings aren’t the only thing to consider. Different products receive better discounts on each day, and the deals that each retailer offers will vary. Here are what we considered to be the best deals of Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year, and whether you can save on those products right now.
The 10 best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals of last year
- Best Echo deal: Echo Dot, $49.99 (originally $50.00) [Was just $22.00 for Black Friday last year]
- Best streaming deal: Get Hulu Basic for $1.99 a month for the first year (normally $5.99 a month) [You saved $48 — no longer available]
- Best earbuds deal: Apple AirPods with Charging Case, $139.00 (originally $159.00) [Was just $129.00 for Black Friday last year]
- Best fitness tracker deal: Fitbit Versa 2, $196.00 (originally $200.00) [Was just $149.00 for Black Friday last year]
- Best e-book reader deal: Kindle Paperwhite, $89.99 (originally $129.99) [Was just $84.99 for Black Friday last year]
- Best startup sheets deal: Get 20% off sitewide at Brooklinen [No longer available]
- Best startup mattress deal: Save up to $350 off mattresses, plus free pillows at Leesa [No longer available]
- Best gaming deal: Xbox One S 1TB with “Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order” for $249.99 (originally $299.99) [Was just $199.99 for Black Friday last year]
- Best home appliance deal: Up to 30% off Appliance Special Buys at Home Depot [Was 40% off for Black Friday last year]
- Best health deal: 23andMe DNA Test – Health + Ancestry, $199.00 (originally $199.00) [Was just $99.99 for Black Friday last year]
Shop Black Friday for expensive products — shop Cyber Monday for gadgets
For items you’re likely to buy once a year or less, you’ll probably find better discounts on Black Friday. Anything you’d buy as a gift will likely see better discounts on Cyber Monday.
“Black Friday equals big-ticket items,” said Steve Koenig, Vice President of Research at the Consumer Technology Association. “With big deals on TVs, laptops, game consoles, and more during Black Friday week, many [people’s] purchases end up being for themselves or their own households.”
“TVs and appliances, you tend to get really great deals on Black Friday,” said Vivek Pandya, Digital Insights Manager at Adobe. “Cyber Monday, you see more of a focus on … other types of electronics that are newer niche, experimental technologies.”
On Black Friday of 2018, the most discounted items were televisions (down by an average of 18%) and computers (17.8%), according to Adobe Analytics. The best discounts on toys, by contrast, came on the Sunday just before Cyber Monday.
The most popular deals of Black Friday 2018 included Nintendo Switch bundles, TVs, iPhones, iPads, Instant Pots, and Roomba robot vacuums, according to sales data from BlackFriday.com. Cyber Monday top sellers also included the Switch, TVs, and laptops, but also included Echo devices, drones, and techy toys.
Cyber Monday shoppers are a bit more excited about smart home in particular: 17% of respondents to a BlackFriday.com survey said they planned to look for smart home deals during Cyber Monday of last year, compared to 16% who will look for such deals on Black Friday.
Shop Black Friday for major stores; shop Cyber Monday for secondhand buys
“For Black Friday, look to the biggest retailers, the ones who can afford to have smaller margins,” said Janet Alveraz, Executive Editor of the personal-finance publication Wise Bread. “Places like Walmart and Best Buy tend to offer the best deals on Black Friday.” The exception here is Amazon, which tends to have better deals on Cyber Monday — as long as you’re a Prime member.
But, if you’re willing to buy products from resellers, Cyber Monday is a great time to shop on eBay. “You’ll find a lot of people reselling items they just purchased on Black Friday,” Alveraz said.
Shop Black Friday for this year’s products; shop Cyber Monday for older generations
“Latest-generation products tend to be cheaper on Black Friday than on Cyber Monday,” Alveraz said. “Cyber Monday is a terrific time for smart home [devices], TVs, and consoles that are older.”
Shop Black Friday if you plan to visit a store
Despite Black Friday’s reputation as a brick-and-mortar shopping day, 68% of BlackFriday.com respondents said they’d spend the day shopping online last year.
Online retailers, including Amazon and eBay, aren’t limited to Cyber Monday; they’ll be offering discounts on Black Friday too (as well as the preceding days). The reverse is not true, however: you can’t walk into a Target on Cyber Monday and expect to find Cyber Monday-specific discounts.
No matter when or where you shop, use a credit card with purchase protection
Especially if you’re buying something expensive like a laptop or TV, it’s best to use a credit card that offers purchase protection. If you pay with a card that offers this benefit and a covered item is stolen or damaged, you can receive reimbursement — much better than being out hundreds of dollars if something goes wrong.
Some of the top rewards credit cards offering this benefit include the Platinum Card® from American Express, the Chase Freedom, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Coverage varies from card to card and is generally valid for up to 120 days after you purchase an item. Be sure to read the terms and conditions ahead of time so you’re familiar with any exclusions and caps on reimbursement.