If getting in line before sunrise and pushing your way through a deal-hungry crowd isn’t your idea of fun, skip Black Friday and wait for Cyber Monday to start your holiday shopping (Nov. 26 this year). Online-only retailers like Amazon as well as brick-and-mortar stores both get in on the action, and with big savings to be had with little effort required, it’s worth checking out.
Here are some tips to ensure you can take advantage of all the best deals from the comfort of your own computer:
- Sign up for emails: Find out which stores carry the items you want, then sign up for their email lists. You may get advance notice about their Cyber Monday deals and find out whether Target or Best Buy has the best price on that flatscreen TV or digital camera.
- Buy the Sunday paper: Friday’s paper will be dedicated mostly to Black Friday sales, so pick up a copy on Sunday and scan the circulars for Cyber Monday savings.
- Check the web: Websites like cybermonday2012.com and bestcybermonday.com are dedicated solely to this day. Check them regularly for news, coupons and contests. Major retailers’ websites as well as news articles can also point you in the right direction; Forbes reports that retailers are beefing up their IT operations to make sure they don’t crash from the massive spike in traffic, which is good news for all.
- Use social media: In addition to signing up for emails and checking the retailers’ websites, follow them on Twitter and Facebook, where they may post exclusive news updates and sales. If a big announcement comes out, like how to get your hands on the new iPad Mini, it will spread like wildfire on these sites.
- Join loyalty programs: Retailers from DSW to Ulta have loyalty programs, which are free to join and grant you access to sales and specials the general public doesn’t get. Sign up the next time you’re in the store and ask if members will get any additional savings on Cyber Monday.
- Be prepared: Have your shopping list ready before Monday morning comes, and get specific. In addition to the item and who it’s for, include links to the top three websites where you think you’ll find the best price based on your research.
Not ready to shop this early? Experts say Black Friday and Cyber Monday are not the only days to find great deals. In fact, Time magazine reported that the biggest days for savings in 2011 happened after Thanksgiving weekend and before Dec. 13. Early birds can also score big savings as soon as mid-November.