Cyber Monday: 6 Ways to Make Sure Your Money Goes Further
For those joining the Cyber Monday rush, there are multiple easy ways to ensure your money goes further. Photo: RgStudio / Getty Images
After snapping up Black Friday deals to knock a few gifts off their Christmas shopping list, bargain-hunting online shoppers have shifted their sights to Nov. 30 — a.k.a. Cyber Monday.
Black Friday’s younger sibling, Cyber Monday is a 24-hour online shopping extravaganza that was first created in 2005 as an incentive to get people used to the idea of buying products online.
Back then, bricks-and-mortar retail stores were king, and online shopping was an activity largely dominated by young tech-savvy consumers.
But today, with pandemic restrictions forcing many malls and shops across the country to close their doors and severely cut back on services, online shopping has become a necessity rather than a luxury.
The numbers back this up. According to a recent study of 1,300 Canadians, KPMG found that 66 per cent of all Canadians increased their online shopping habits during COVID-19. And it’s not just millennials who are stoking the e-commerce frenzy — 54 per cent of Canadians aged 55-plus say they are using online shopping services of large non-grocery retailers more often than in the past
“Canada is having an e-commerce moment, and the way people shop has changed,” suggests Eric Morris, managing director of retail at Google Canada. “E-commerce tripled during the early days of the pandemic and, while it tapered a bit during summer months, it’s quite possible (even likely) it could double this holiday season.”
If you’re one of those planning to join the Cyber Monday rush, here are six tips to help you prep ahead of time and make your money go further.
1. Think Smaller
While Black Friday usually offers deeper discounts on big-ticket items — like cars, TVs or major appliances — Cyber Monday is better suited to smaller items that can be cheaply shipped, like smartphones, laptops, speakers, homeware and apparel. “Cyber Monday is a better day to shop for tech deals and smaller gifts. You’ll also see slightly better discounts online,” says Business Insider.
2. Online Tools
There are a variety of websites that will help you locate the best Cyber Monday deals. Bargain/coupon sites like RedFlagDeals, Smart Canucks or FabulousSavings gather all the best Cyber Monday deals into one handy portal. Blogs like the Toronto-based Narcity or Vancouver-based Daily Hive are useful starting points as well. Or you can use social media — Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — to pinpoint the best deals by entering #cybermondaycanada into the search engine.
3. Shop Local
Sandwiched in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday, to help out the many smaller stores that have been decimated by the COVID-19 economic shutdowns. “It’s easy to default to big-box stores and online giants on Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” says Laura Jones, executive vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses. “But it’s the independent stores in our neighbourhoods that really, really need a boost this year –their futures depend on it.”
Those who want to help out this beleaguered sector should visit smallbizsaturday to find an interactive map with small businesses in your area that offer shipping or curbside pick-up. Or window shop on a virtual Main Street online by visiting Shop Local Canada, a directory of smaller stores across Canada that might tempt you to avoid the big-box retailers. Not only might you save money — especially by avoiding shipping costs when shopping locally with curbside pick-up — but every dollar you spend will help independent businesses survive this trying time.
4. Small Details Can Add Up
Looking past that enticing 50 per cent-off banner on a retailer’s website to search for the fine print on shipping and return policies can take a little bit of the fun out of online shopping, but it’s a necessary evil.
Online storefronts rarely advertise that they don’t offer free shipping on their items. Instead, the fee often shows in the final review of the order, after you’ve entered your payment information. Depending on the price of the item, shipping costs can negate much of your savings.
Similarly, return policies that include shipping charges or restocking fees can eat into refunds, taking the shine off your Cyber Monday find.
Before you add anything to your digital shopping cart, look for the website’s shipping and return policy, and call customer service if any clarification is needed.
5. Put Safety First
Retailers won’t be the only ones vying for your money on Cyber Monday. Cyber criminals often create convincing replicas of well-known retailers to obtain personal and financial information from online shoppers. To ensure you’re not shopping on one of these spoof sites, look for the lock symbol to the left of the URL bar and look for any irregularities in the web address.
Fraudsters often contact their targets through pop-up ads, text messages, social media and emails and adapt their pitches to significant events like Cyber Monday. It’s best to avoid any advertisements asking you to click a link or visit a webpage. Instead, head to the source yourself and stick to the retailers you know when possible.
6. Stay Fuelled
We all know grocery shopping hungry can lead to some unnecessary purchases, but research suggests that keeping our hunger at bay may help us stay on budget this Cyber Monday.
In one study out of the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, researchers surveyed 81 consumers who had just shopped at a large department store that mainly carried non-food products. After shopping, the customers were asked to share their receipts and fill out a questionnaire on their mood, level of hunger and how much they had spent in the store. They found that those who were hungrier had spent 64 per cent more than those who were less hungry.
“Hunger makes us want to eat, which means that we think about seeking, acquiring and consuming food,” Alison Jing Xu, assistant professor of marketing at the Carlson School, told Forbes. “Those acquisition-related thoughts may spill over and put consumers in the mode of getting more stuff in general, even stuff they can’t eat.”
So when you settle into the couch groove for your Cyber Monday marathon, make sure you keep a few healthy snacks within reach.