Teresa McUsic

Haven’t shopped enough yet? Next comes Cyber Monday

Online shopping passed an all-time high of $3 billion last year on Cyber Monday, led by a big boost in purchases via smartphones, according to comScore.
Online shopping passed an all-time high of $3 billion last year on Cyber Monday, led by a big boost in purchases via smartphones, according to comScore. AP

Numbers don’t lie. Even as Black Friday sales expand online, we are still shopping on Cyber Monday.

Last year on the Monday after Thanksgiving, for the first time in history, electronic shopping passed an all-time high of $3 billion in a single day, according to comScore.

“Despite some talk of Cyber Monday declining in importance, the day’s historical highs and continued strong growth rates confirm that it is still a hugely important shopping event,” said comScore chairman emeritus Gian Fulgoni last year.

More than $2 billion of Cyber Monday sales came from desktop computers (and, yes, half were office computers), comScore said. That was 12 percent more than the previous year.

But the real growth came from shopping on our phones. More than $800 million of the shopping done on Cyber Monday last year was by smartphone — a 52 percent increase over the previous year.

This year’s Cyber Monday sales are predicted to be just as strong.

According to a recent DealNews survey, 83 percent of consumers said they will shop on Cyber Monday, up from 77 percent in 2015. That’s almost double the 44 percent who said they would shop on Thanksgiving.

Top deals for Cyber Monday come in several categories, including shoes, beauty, headphones, digital cameras, toys, laptops and data storage, according to Benjamin Glaser, features editor at www.DealNews.com.

RetailMeNot, a retail savings site based in Austin, breaks it down even further. Based on 2015 Cyber Monday sales, the top five retail categories that offered the biggest price cuts were:

▪ Computers/Electronics: 48 percent off

▪ Designer clothing: 43 percent off

▪ Teen clothing: 39 percent off

▪ Books and news: 33 percent off

▪ Home and garden: 31 percent off

Most deals come in the form of percentages off sales, rather than specific reductions on individual items like Black Friday deals, Glaser said. For example, many stores will have everything in the store marked down 25 to 50 percent on Cyber Monday.

Lightning deals are another part of the Cyber Monday game. These are online offers that come and go quickly. So to snag one of these great deals, you must be constantly monitoring either your favorite retailers or deal-watching websites, or sign up for email and social media alerts when deals pop.

Here are five more Cyber Monday tips:

Shop during business hours. Last year, 67 percent of the deals found on Cyber Monday were posted before 5 p.m. Eastern time, according to DealNews. So sneak in those buys around your work day.

Get Amazon Prime. Consumer Reports reporter Tod Marks says the $99 annual fee for Amazon Prime, which includes free two-day shipping for 30 million items, is worth it. Prime has expanded its service to include Sunday delivery and same-day delivery in DFW. And for an extra $14.99 a month, Prime includes grocery and restaurant delivery within two hours in certain markets, including DFW. Other benefits include free music, video and audio streaming, unlimited photo storage and free books from the Kindle lending library.

Use cash-back sites. Cash back websites have been around for decades, but are starting to take off, according to Cashbackholic.com, a free comparative web service. Cashbackholic says its own traffic has grown 20 to 30 percent over the last three years to 2.3 million visitors. Sites like Ebates. Frugal and Top Cashback allow shoppers to earn cash-back rewards on online shopping by first going through their site. A shopper signs up and creates a free account, then searches for stores to see the cash back offer, usually around 5 percent. After clicking on an offer, shoppers complete their purchase at the store’s website. Earnings are deposited into the shopper’s cash back website account, and can be withdrawn in the form of a mailed check or electronic payment such as PayPal, a gift card or even in frequent flier miles.

Package theft. Don’t order gifts and have them delivered to an empty home. If you aren’t normally home during the day, ask a family member or neighbor if you can have your packages delivered there. Or have them delivered to a FedEx, UPS or post office location to be picked up. You can also request a signature at delivery or request a delivery time when you will be home. FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service all have mobile apps available for iPhones and Androids via the app stores to give package recipients the ability to track their packages, electronically sign for a package, request a vacation hold and other services.

Shop safely online. Always remember to use a secure password, look for the unbroken lock icon and https:// at the front of every retail site. And do not shop using wi-fi at your favorite coffeehouse (or anywhere else outside your home for that matter.) Do not respond to retailers or credit card companies that email you or text. They are probably identity thieves looking for your personal information. Use a dedicated credit card for online purchases to further protect yourself.

Teresa McUsic’s column appears Saturdays. TMcUsic@SavvyConsumer.net

Top Cyber Monday sites

1. Amazon

2. Walmart

3. eBay

4. Target

5. Best Buy

Source: comScore