Is Cyber Monday Better Than Black Friday? 8 Ways the Shopping Holidays Differ

Cyber Monday has a reputation for being Black Friday leftovers, but it has its own strengths.
person browsing through Cyber Monday sales on phone

What is Cyber Monday? And is Cyber Monday better than Black Friday? If you don't like spending part of Thanksgiving trying to snag Black Friday doorbuster deals, Cyber Monday may be the shopping holiday that's more your speed. And apparently that's true for many U.S. consumers, who spent more than $9 billion online on Cyber Monday last year, according to Adobe. For comparison, they reportedly spent $7.4 billion online on Black Friday.

The convenience factor of Cyber Monday is strong. But despite some truly excellent offers, Cyber Monday has a bad reputation for being Black Friday leftovers. To help you weigh Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday, we go over the big differences between the shopping holidays.

What Is Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday is an annual online shopping holiday that falls on the Monday after Thanksgiving. In 2020, Cyber Monday is on November 30.

SEE ALSO: Are You Ready for Cyber Monday 2020? Here's Everything You Need to Know!

Cyber Monday is a bit further from the holidays this year than it was in 2019. That means Cyber Monday sales will run before December even begins, but it'll still pay to shop early. Many e-commerce experts and retailers are warning that shoppers could experience shipping delays, and smaller items are a particular concern. It might be in your best interest to finish your shopping no later than Cyber Monday this year — and even then, there's no guarantee your packages will reach you on time.

8 Ways Cyber Monday Is Different From Black Friday

Are Cyber Monday deals as good as Black Friday ones? Our data from last year showed similar numbers of offers on both days, though 29 more deals on Cyber Monday earned our Staff Pick designation, meaning they were among the best sales we saw. Essentially, the two shopping holidays have their own strengths. Here are eight ways they differ.

Cyber Monday Is More Online-Focused

Online sales dominate Cyber Monday. On Monday alone last year, we listed 250 deals from online megastore Amazon. But stores with physical locations will usually have the same offers online and offline. And even if you do prefer to shop in-store, brick-and-mortar retailers are likely to be less crowded on Monday than Friday.

You May Have to Pay for Shipping

With Cyber Monday being more online-oriented than Black Friday, shipping can be a bigger factor when shopping. Many retailers offer free shipping — with or without a minimum purchase required — for Cyber Monday, but not all of them do. That can add an unexpected price premium on the deals, so keep your eyes open for sales that include free shipping — or double-check the shipping costs before you buy.

You can often save by opting for in-store or curbside pickup when shopping online on Cyber Monday.

And remember that you can often save by opting for in-store or curbside pickup when shopping online on Cyber Monday. These services are available from most major brick-and-mortar retailers.

There's Less Time to Prep

Savvy shoppers know that making a plan is the key to savings success. And Black Friday offers plenty of time to plan ahead, as deals are often advertised weeks in advance. Cyber Monday sales are typically more of a surprise: you won't see as many Cyber Monday ads, and they may not show up until after Black Friday.

To keep tabs on the best sales, get on your favorite retailers' mailing lists. Additionally, sign up for the DealNews Select Newsletter and set up deal alerts on products you want. They'll help you find sales you might otherwise miss.

It's All About the Lightning Deals

Though you won't have to wait in line for doorbuster deals on Cyber Monday, sales that day do tend to come and go quickly. Many of the best deals only hang around for a day or two, and some items with very limited quantities — like Amazon Lightning Deals — may sell out within hours or even minutes.

However, it's a mixed bag, as Cyber Monday has slowly turned into Cyber Week. We only posted 29% of Cyber Week offers on Monday last year, meaning that even if you skip out on Monday shopping, there will be more deals to snag later.

Fewer Items Are Out of Stock

We just said that Cyber Monday deals come and go quickly, but you can still expect more items to be in stock on Cyber Monday than on Black Friday. In 2018, for example, an out-of-stock message popped up for 2.4% of product page visits on Cyber Monday, compared to 2.8% on Black Friday, according to Adobe.

Depending on what you're shopping for — toys are often a particularly hot product on Cyber Monday — that could make a big difference.

Cost Comparisons Are Easier

When you're in-store, you can always pull up your smartphone to do a cost comparison when you buy, but slow cellular data can make the task frustrating. During Cyber Monday, comparing prices is as easy as alt-tabbing — plus you can use browser add-ons like PriceBlink and CamelCamelCamel to see if you're getting the lowest price straight from your web browser.

It's Simpler to Shop Wherever You Want

If you go store to store on Thanksgiving or Black Friday, it takes a lot of time. You may have to drive to multiple locations in the cold, get stuck in crowds, and hunt for parking spots.

SEE ALSO: These 9 Stores Will Offer the Best Cyber Monday Deals in 2020

But going from store to store on Cyber Monday is as quick and easy as opening a new browser tab — which makes it simple to buy from whatever retailer you want.

Different Items Go on Sale

Though some deals last throughout the massive Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday extravaganza, sales are different every day. Cyber Monday is typically the best time to buy speakers, toys, and laptops, while Black Friday is better for TVs, Android phones, and beauty items.

If you shop in the right product categories, you can get the best deals on each day.

Readers, do you think Cyber Monday is better than Black Friday, or that it's the other way around? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

DealNews Contributing Writer

Originally working in IT, Elizabeth now writes on tech, gaming, and general consumer issues. Her articles have appeared in USA Today, Time, AOL, PriceGrabber, and more. She has been one of DealNews' most regular contributors since 2013, researching everything from vacuums to renters insurance to help consumers.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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