Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday: What's the Difference?

Cyber Monday has a reputation for being Black Friday leftovers, but it has its own strengths.
Updated
Person browses Cyber Monday deals on phone.

If you don't like heading in-store to snag Black Friday 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 $11.3 billion online on Cyber Monday last year, according to Adobe. For comparison, they reportedly spent $9.12 billion online on Black Friday.

Is Cyber Monday better than Black Friday, though? The convenience factor of Cyber Monday is strong. But despite having some excellent offers, Cyber Monday has a reputation for being Black Friday sale leftovers. To help you weigh Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday and make buying decisions for 2023, we go over the big differences between the shopping holidays.

Is Cyber Monday Better Than Black Friday?

Cyber Monday deals are as good as Black Friday ones, and may be even better if you consider DealNews data from last year. It showed 51 more deals listed on Cyber Monday compared to Black Friday. And 35 more deals on Cyber Monday earned our Staff Pick designation, meaning they were among the best sales we saw.

SEE ALSO: Is Cyber Monday Worth It? What to Buy at Cyber Monday Sales

But while it may be fun to wonder, "Which is better, Black Friday or Cyber Monday?" the two shopping holidays have their own strengths. Here are eight ways they differ.

Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday: 8 Ways They Differ

Cyber Monday Is More Online-Focused

As its name suggests, Cyber Monday is dominated by online sales. On that Monday alone last year, we listed nearly 200 deals from online retailer Amazon. But stores with physical locations 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 Cyber Monday than Black Friday.

You May Have to Pay More for Shipping on Cyber Monday

With Cyber Monday being more online-oriented than Black Friday, shipping can be a bigger factor when shopping. Historically, many retailers have offered free shipping for Cyber Monday — with or without a minimum purchase requirement. But not all do. That can add an unexpected price premium to 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.

Note that retailer membership programs often include free shipping, too. If you're signed up for Amazon Prime or Walmart+, for example, you can take advantage of their free delivery perks. We've even seen Walmart take 50% off the $98 Walmart+ membership cost already this season. Other stores offer free shipping at no cost as part of their membership programs.

You could also sign up for free trials of paid membership programs to take advantage of free shipping. But it's helpful if trials span both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and make sure to cancel before they're up if you don't want to pay for a full membership.

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 many major brick-and-mortar retailers.

There's More Time to Prep for Black Friday Sales

Savvy shoppers know that making a plan is the key to savings success. And there's plenty of time to prepare for Black Friday, as great deals are often advertised weeks in advance. Cyber Monday sales are typically more of a surprise. Fewer Cyber Monday ads are available, and there's always a chance they'll show up after Black Friday instead of before. The ones that do show up earlier are usually found at the end of Black Friday ads, so they can be easy to miss. Be sure to check out the ads in their entirety when putting your plan together.

SEE ALSO: The 6 Best Stores for Cyber Monday Deals in 2023

To keep tabs on the best sales, get on your favorite retailers' mailing lists and follow their social media accounts. 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.

Cyber Monday Deals Can Go Away Quicker

Though you don't have to wait in line for any doorbuster deals on Cyber Monday, sales do tend to come and go quickly. Many of the best offers 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.

But it's a mixed bag, as Cyber Monday has slowly turned into Cyber Week. We posted less than a third of Cyber Week deals on Monday last year, meaning that even if you skip out on Monday shopping, there will be more great deals to snag later.

Fewer Items Are Out of Stock on Cyber Monday (Possibly)

We said that Cyber Monday deals come and go quickly, but you can still expect more items to be in stock on Cyber Monday compared to the day after Thanksgiving. Given that we're also not seeing issues with supply chain disruptions like we did a couple of years ago, there may be an even lesser concern of items selling out on Cyber Monday 2023. Even so, it's best to shop early on that Monday to avoid missing out. You can even score many Cyber Monday deals on the Sunday before.

Cost Comparisons Are Easier on Cyber Monday

When you're in-store, you can always pull out 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 jumping to another tab. Plus, you can use browser add-ons like CamelCamelCamel to see if you're getting the lowest price straight from your web browser.

Browser add-ons like CamelCamelCamel can help you see if you're getting the lowest price on Cyber Monday.

Price matching is another way to ensure you're getting the best price available. But some stores restrict price matching around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Target's Holiday Price Match Guarantee may offer reassurance, though, and doesn't appear to have restrictions around the shopping holidays. The retailer states on their site that "if you purchase an item in store or online and the price goes lower at Target on or before December 24, 2023, you can request a price match." You'll need to show proof of purchase to get a price adjustment, though.

It Can Be Harder to Shop Wherever You Want on Black Friday

Going store to store on Black Friday takes a lot of time. It often involves driving to multiple locations in the cold, hunting for parking spots, and then getting stuck in crowds inside the stores.

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

Different Items Go On Sale on Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday

Though some deals last throughout the massive Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday extravaganza, sales are different every day. For 2023, expect Cyber Monday to be the best time to buy the following items:

But Black Friday this year could've been better for Android smartphones and iPhones, laptops, shoes, video games, and tools.

If you target the right product categories, you can get the best deals when you shop.

Ready to shop? Check out the best deals available right now, and follow us on TikTok to get more helpful shopping info.


Elizabeth Harper
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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