Cyber Monday is here and many sales at retailers like Target, Walmart and Amazon will continue throughout the week, or longer. So many extended sales are happening, the month has become known as "Black November," according to experts.
So are Cyber Monday sales are unique or worth taking advantage of? Select talked to experts about how to approach the event and how it compares to Black Friday.
What to buy and what to skip on Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday began as a tech-heavy deals day, said Kristin McGrath, senior editor at RetailMeNot. And while almost all types of electronics are on sale during Cyber Monday — including small kitchen appliances, smart home products, audio equipment and gaming systems — now, those deals start on Black Friday or earlier. So Cyber Monday has become a “catch all deals day,” McGrath said, with a little bit of everything on sale.
Some of the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are traditionally on certain products: In 2021 electronics, computers, appliances, sporting goods and toys, saw the strongest discounts, according to Adobe Analytics. You’re also likely to see strong sales around home items and beauty products, Adobe Analytics data showed. And while there may be a few brand new deals on Cyber Monday — like a unique video game bundle or specific TV, PC or laptop models — there won’t be as many to choose from. Some brands do try to make their Cyber Monday discounts stand out by offering an extra 10% off via promo codes or they may lower their threshold for free shipping — perhaps you needed to spend $100 to get free shipping on Black Friday but only $75 on Cyber Monday.
What should you wait to buy? You will likely get better deals on large appliances, mattresses and furniture on sale holidays like President’s Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day, experts told us.
Cyber Monday 2021 bestsellers
To give you an idea of the products you’ll see on sale during Cyber Monday, here a few 2021 top sellers, according to Adobe data. These products were some of the most sought-after, so if you’re interested this year, get them before they sell out. We also highlighted Select reader-favorite products from Cyber Monday 2021 here.
Apple products are often discounted during sales events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and AirPods, Apple Watches and Apple Pencils were all top sellers on Cyber Monday 2021. The first generation of AirPods Pro offers active noise cancellation and transparency modes, and comes with silicone tips in three sizes to customize the fit. A MagSafe Charging Case is included with these AirPods. Airpods Pro 2nd generation are also currently on sale for $199 down from $249.
The Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite were both top sellers on Cyber Monday 2021, as were other gaming systems such as the Xbox Series X and Meta Quest 2. You can play the handheld Nintendo Switch on the go or slide it into the included dock and connect it to a TV. The device also comes with two Joy-Con controllers for multiplayer gaming.
One of the best times for toy deals, in 2021, some of the hottest toys were Hot Wheels, Nerf toys, Baby Alive, Paw Patrol, Squeakee toys and Tamagotchi Pix. Hot Wheels Color Shifters set comes with five mini vehicles that change color when dunked in warm water. A dip in cold water brings them back to their original shade.
Shoppers added laptops from brands like Lenovo, Dell and HP to their Cyber Monday carts in 2021. This Lenovo Chromebook has a slim profile and a 360-degree hinge that lets you to use it as a computer or tablet. It’s designed with an 11-inch touchscreen and 720-pixel webcam, says the brand, and has a 10-hour battery life, making it great for travel.
Sony and Samsung were two of the most popular TV brands during Cyber Monday last year, Adobe says. This Sony model has a X1 4K HDR processor for a smooth, clear and vibrant picture, according to the brand. The TV also works with a variety of streaming services and Amazon Alexa once paired with compatible devices.
Is Cyber Monday a thing?
Because the line between Black Friday and Cyber Monday has blurred over the years — and because deals now start so early — many shoppers are wondering, is Cyber Monday still a “thing”?
Experts unanimously agreed that yes, Cyber Monday is still a thing. In fact, it’s historically the biggest day for online shopping every year, and Cyber Monday 2020 was the biggest day for online shopping in U.S. history. Shoppers who forget to shop during Black Friday get another chance on Cyber Monday, and many see Cyber Monday as their last chance to score the best discounts of the year. “A sense of urgency kicks in,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights. This incentivizes people to make purchases and finish crossing off everything on their lists before Tuesday rolls around.
What is Cyber Week?
“Cyber Week” refers to the rest of the week following Cyber Monday, which is full of sales and deals from online retailers. Consumers are more likely to shop early rather than shop late, said the experts, but retailers allow deals to linger to capitalize on last-minute shoppers.
Is Cyber Monday the same as Black Friday?
Originally, Black Friday was for in-person shopping and Cyber Monday was for online shopping, which meant different products were on sale at different retailers. Not anymore: “We’ve been seeing that Cyber Monday offers a lot of repeat deals from Black Friday,” Pandya said. “We’ve seen a couple instances where a Cyber Monday deal was slightly different or slightly better compared to Black Friday. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s a lot of the same.”
Do prices go down on Cyber Monday?
When early Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals go live in mid-October or November, discounts are usually between 5% and 15%, said Pandya. But deals get deeper as Thanksgiving weekend nears. Pandya said you’ll get the best discounts the week of Thanksgiving and are likely to see products between 30% and 50% off. Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you probably won’t see prices drop significantly — whatever the deal is on Black Friday will usually last through Cyber Monday. After Cyber Monday, any deals that stick around are weak, Pandya said.
How get the most out of Cyber Monday shopping
Below are tips experts recommend keeping in mind while you’re shopping Cyber Monday sales to ensure you saving the most money during the event.
- Stick to a shopping list. This allows you to prioritize the products you’re looking for and can help you avoid impulse purchases, especially if you want to shop within a set budget.
- Consider brands you may not be familiar with. If you’re not brand loyal, experts suggested finding a handful of models that meet your qualifications and compare prices before adding one to your cart. If you don’t limit yourself to only brands you’re familiar with, you’ll have a wider assortment of deals to choose from.
- Weigh different payment options. Some credit cards offer cash back and rewards points at specific retailers — for example, shopping at Amazon or Walmart with their specific credit cards gets you a certain amount back every time you shop if you’re an Amazon Prime or Walmart+ member. Credit cards may even offer bonus promotions during the holiday shopping season. CNBC Select’s money experts will keep you updated on promos as they’re announced. Additionally, if you’re looking for ways to finance a larger purchase, buy now, pay later apps may be of interest.
- Use price trackers and browser extensions. Some, like Honey and Cently, can automatically apply coupon codes to your cart at checkout. Other tools like PriceBlink allow you to compare prices across multiple retailers, and others — including Amazon Assistant and Karma browser extension — monitor prices and alert you when they drop for products you’re interested in.
- Research retailers’ price match guarantee policies. Some will match lower prices at another retailer. But read the fine print for exceptions. Some retailers only price match for certain competitors, for example, while others won’t price match Cyber Monday pricing.
- Pay attention to return policies. Retailers’ standard return policies may not apply to purchases made during Black Friday and other big sale events. Make sure you’re aware of return policies before you buy an item, especially if it’s something you’ll need to try on, such as clothes or shoes.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Kristin McGrath is a shopping expert and senior editor at The Real Deal by RetailMeNot. Her great loves are travel, shopping and shopping while traveling, which has made her a bargain hunter out of necessity. She specializes in helping shoppers make the best savings decisions, and getting the best deal on purchases big and small.
- Vivek Pandya is the lead insights analyst for Adobe who provides research analysis to senior marketing and e-commerce executives across industries.