Cyber Monday: 6 Ways to Make Sure Your Money Goes Further

Cyber Monday

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. 29 — 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, after the pandemic forced a larger number of shoppers online last year, many have come to enjoy the convenience. According to the Retail Council of Canada’s Holiday Shopping Survey of 2,500 Canadians, 37 per cent of shoppers plan to do their shopping online. That’s only down five per cent from last year’s survey when many brick-and-mortar stores were closed.

Last year, a KPMG study of 1,300 Canadians found that 66 per cent of all Canadians increased their online shopping habits during COVID-19, while 54 per cent of Canadians aged 55-plus said they were using online shopping services of large non-grocery retailers more often than in the past

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. You can also follow stores and brands on social media — Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — to stay up to date on any deals they’re promoting.


3. Shop Local


Sandwiched in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday, to help out the many smaller stores that are still recovering from the COVID-19 economic shutdowns.

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 bounce back.


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.