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While Black Friday has long reigned as the start of the holiday shopping season, the subsequent shopping holiday of Cyber Monday has become increasingly important for online shoppers.
Last year, Cyber Monday had more shoppers than Black Friday, bringing in an estimated 126.9 million, compared to 86.9 million on the day after Thanksgiving, according to the National Retail Federation. Orders on Cyber Monday racked up over $2 billion in sales, up 15% from 2013, and online spending has taken over more than 40% of Thanksgiving weekend shopping.
But despite the success of Cyber Monday, one of the reasons why Black Friday works so well as a shopping holiday is that most U.S. shoppers have the day after Thanksgiving off.
While Black Friday isn't a federal holiday, it is recognized as a holiday by 24 states (and is a common work and school holiday regardless). The Monday after Thanksgiving, however, sees many potential shoppers at work, where their shopping opportunities — even for online shopping — may be more limited.
And that's a shame, since many of Cyber Monday's best deals appear early in the day; for example, last year on DealNews, 67% of the deals we found on Cyber Monday were posted before 5 pm ET. That means bargain hunters will have to log on during business hours to snag the best sales.
Despite the great deals, our own survey of 1,873 people who plan to shop this Black Friday season suggests that most people won't be shopping from work.
On Cyber Monday last year, 56% of shoppers claimed they didn't shop at work. Of those who did shop at work, 27% did so on their work computer. With a number of businesses locking down on work traffic, many (but not most) turn to shopping on their mobile devices, which accounted for 22% of 2014 Cyber Monday sales.
So will you be taking a break at work on Cyber Monday to do some holiday shopping? Let's look at the numbers.
Even if the rank and file aren't shopping during the workday, their managers are likely to, with 53% of senior-level employees spending time snagging deals. Of those shoppers, 10% say they'll spend more than three hours of work shopping. But while more managers are cutting into their working hours to catch up on shopping, 24% of companies have fired employees for non-business Internet use. That's likely why 27% of workday shoppers will use their own smartphones or tablets to shop at work.
However, the majority of Cyber Monday shoppers are doing so after hours, with most shopping between 9 pm and 10 pm EST — which means they miss out on the day's best bargains.
But as holiday creep pushes the "Black Friday season" earlier every year, is shopping on Cyber Monday even that important? So-called Black Friday deals often start early in the week and last through the weekend. These Black Friday sales inevitably include online sales to help retailers compete with Amazon, which typically offers aggressive price matching over the holiday season. And while Cyber Monday may be on, well, a Monday, many of the deals last all week.
This leaves shoppers with a solid two weeks of holiday sales, meaning Black Friday and Cyber Monday (the specific days) aren't your only shopping options. (And in fact, Thanksgiving will be the single best day to shop during that timeframe.)
The first step for any bargain hunter is to do your homework. Cyber Monday can offer plenty of steals, but not everything will have the lowest price on Monday. Some item types may be more heavily discounted earlier or later in the shopping season, so watch the deals and shop at the right time to get the best value on the items you're after.
If you're set on shopping during Cyber Monday, do your shopping early (if possible) to catch the best sales. If that doesn't mesh with your work schedule, using a mobile device to shop could be a good idea, depending on how strict your employers are about Internet access. Regardless, we really can't recommend spending three work hours shopping, as 10% of managers may be doing this Cyber Monday.
Readers, what are your Cyber Monday plans? Are you going to shop during work or at home? Let us know in the comments below!