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.
Updated
browsing 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 $10 billion online on Cyber Monday last year, according to Adobe. For comparison, they reportedly spent $9 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 Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday, 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 2021, Cyber Monday is on November 29.

SEE ALSO: The 8 Best Cyber Monday Stores to Shop in 2021

Cyber Monday is a bit far from the holidays once again this year. 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 supply chain disruptions, which will amount to a smaller selection and inventory that sells out quickly. 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.

Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday: 8 Ways They Differ

Are Cyber Monday deals as good as Black Friday ones? Our data from last year showed 28 more offers on Black Friday, though 10 more deals on Cyber Monday earned our Staff Pick designation, meaning they were among the best sales we saw. 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.

Cyber Monday Is More Online-Focused

Online sales dominate Cyber Monday. On Monday alone last year, we listed almost 150 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 on Cyber Monday

With Cyber Monday being more online-oriented than Black Friday, shipping can be a bigger factor when shopping. Many retailers offer free shipping for Cyber Monday — with or without a minimum purchase requirement — 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 More Time to Prep for Black Friday

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.

Cyber Monday Is 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 33% 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 on Cyber Monday (Possibly)

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 a normal year. However, we may see out-of-stock issues arise more in 2021 thanks to the aforementioned supply chain disruptions and shipping delays. Be prepared to shop early on Monday to try to avoid missing out.

SEE ALSO: Is Cyber Monday Worth It? Here's What to Buy on Cyber Monday

There's no guarantee you'll be able to avoid the limited-stock challenges entirely this year, though. As Adobe reports, the prevalence of out-of-stock messages is already up. In October, it had risen 250%, compared to the pre-pandemic period of January 2020. And compared to October 2019, the numbers look even worse — there's an astonishing 325% increase in that case. Unfortunately, there's no end to these issues in sight, so there's a good chance Cyber Monday will see its fair share of items selling out.

Cost Comparisons Are Easier on Cyber Monday

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 jumping to another tab — 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 Can Be Harder to Shop Wherever You Want on Black Friday

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

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

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 on Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday

Though some deals last throughout the massive Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday extravaganza, sales are different every day. Cyber Monday is the best time to buy Android phones, kitchen items, shoes, beauty items, and potentially TVs, while Black Friday this year looks to be better for cameras, tablets, laptops, toys, appliances, and tools.

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

Can't wait to shop? Check out the best deals available right now!


Elizabeth Harper
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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