Its official name is Cyber Monday. But the first day on the job after Thanksgiving — when shoppers hit the Web for steals on holiday gifts — may as well be called the most unproductive workday of the year. Last year, Americans spent $733 million in one day, making hundreds of online purchases when their bosses turned their backs.
1. Be loyal.
Create an online shopping-only e-mail address and sign up in advance for newsletters and e-mails from your favorite retailers. Then you’ll snag surprising deals — Eddie Bauer, for example, lowers the free shipping barrier for loyalty program members from $100 to $50, though you have to enter a code. Gifts.com’s Gillian Joseph agrees it’s essential to sign up for the spam. “You can usually shop starting at midnight and don’t have to worry about waiting on line,” she confides. “And they often have a little promotion code at the bottom of the e-mail to see how far into the e-mail you’re going to read.” In other words, don’t just scan the subject line.
2. Make a list and check it twice.
The hype and deals of Cyber Monday can be overwhelming — and wallet-threatening. Avoid impulse buying by building a detailed list of must-haves. Sticking to a smaller number of stores is not only more manageable, but you will save on shipping (and single shipments aren’t just cheaper, they’re more eco-friendly, burning less jet fuel for delivery).
3. Get your browsing done.
Window-shop online or at your local mall — preparation is key to maximize time on Cyber Monday. “Do your looking online over the weekend, put your items in your cart and save them, then wait for an off hour to place your order,” suggests Christine Frietchen from consumersearch.com.
Instead of ploughing through Google’s vast, unsifted results, let someone else do the editing for you. For inspiration, check Luckymag.com’s 200 choicest boutiques or the recommendations on storeadore.com and shopstyle.com.
5. Think Cyber Saturday and Cyber Sunday.
Charlie Graham says smart shoppers (and those loyalty program members) can sometimes get online deals all weekend. “All the retailers are clamoring for the same dollars this year, so look a little early to get the scoop.”