Cyber Monday is now giving Black Friday a run for its money in terms of consumer interest, but that doesn’t mean the deals are worth shopping.
This year, Americans plan to spend $803 on average between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, an increase from $743 last year, according to a survey conducted by deals website RetailMeNot.
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And nearly as many consumers plan to shop for holiday gifts at online-only retailers (60%) as department stores (67%), making the web-based bargains from Cyber Monday an even bigger draw.
But not all sales are created equal. Here is what experts suggest consumers avoid buying on Cyber Monday:
Small electronics, including smartphones, were No. 1 for the majority of holiday wish lists, according to RetailMeNot. But consumers hunting for a bargain on a new smartphone should either plan to shop the Black Friday sales or wait until December, said Brent Shelton, online shipping expert with PR firm Bospar.
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“Generally speaking, the incentivized deals for smartphones we see on Black Friday do not carry over” to Cyber Monday, he said. Consumers may benefit from holding off until the first weekend in December, when carriers begin their final holiday sales push. Apple
doesn’t discount new iPhones, but wireless companies offer deals.
Door-buster prices on 4K TVs and streaming devices are more likely to be found on Black Friday, Shelton said. But any sales that do come around on Cyber Monday won’t last long.
Smart-home devices may see major deals on Cyber Monday, but experts say consumers should still steer clear.
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“While some older versions of connected home devices will be sale-priced on Cyber Monday, buyers should keep in mind that more dated models, particularly from less established brands, may be subject to a lack of customer support and security updates in the coming years,” said Harold Li, vice president at ExpressVPN.com, a company that offers a virtual private network services.
“This is especially important for devices where security is critical, like smart speakers, smart locks, and internet-connected cameras,” he added.
As with Black Friday, discounts for winter coats and sweaters will abound on Cyber Monday. But that doesn’t mean the deals are worth buying. The best time to buy winter clothing is in January, when retailers will reduce prices in an effort to clear shelves for the new spring clothing lines, said Phillip Dengler, co-owner of savings website BestBlackFriday.com.
The sales on jewelry will be less sterling than clothing discounts, said Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot. In fact, consumers should hold off on buying those diamond earrings until the New Year. “Everything gets deeply discounted in time for Valentine’s Day, so January is going to be when you find all of those big bargains,” Skirboll said.
Retailers often run out of the most popular toys and video gaming systems of the season — such as Hatchimals and the Nintendo Switch — so consumers may not be able to get these at a discount if they’re must-have. The best time to buy most toys though is mid-December, when stores are looking to unload remaining inventory ahead of Christmas, Dengler said. “Do not wait too long, however,” he said. “You will see great prices after Dec. 17, but the inventory and selection may no longer be desirable.”
Furniture and kitchen appliances
Retailers like to hype their sales on home furnishings and décor this time of year. But chances are the deals aren’t all that special. As BlackFriday.com notes, these items go on sale regularly throughout the year. So unless consumers have their heart set on a particular item, they won’t miss out on much by prioritizing other purchases come Cyber Monday.
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Meanwhile, big-box retailers and department stores like Target
are likely to run promotions on Black Friday for kitchen items such as stand-mixers and waffle irons. But those deals are likely to be one-day-only affairs, Shelton said.
Athletic apparel and gym equipment
Your friend or family member may be mulling that New Year’s resolution to get in shape — but you’re better off waiting until January to buy them that new set of weights. People really decide to follow through on their New Year’s resolutions in January even if they have forgotten them by February. “Retailers understand that, so that’s when they’re offering their big promotions to compete and drive traffic to their stores,” Skirboll said.
Jacob Passy is a personal-finance reporter for MarketWatch and is based in New York.
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