2020 Ultimate Guide: Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping


Ultimate Guide: Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping | thegoodstuff

Ready, set, stop — are you gearing up to get your shop on, starting this Friday and lasting through Cyber Monday? ‘Tis the weekend for huge deals and must-have bargains, but don’t head into it without a good plan for getting the biggest bang for your buck.

While stores are mostly open in spite of the pandemic, you may opt to stay safe and warm and do most of your shopping online. We’ll get you primed for the best online holiday shopping experience with these Black Friday and Cyber Monday tips:

Black Friday Shopping

Though the word “black” refers to profitability, it can also be used to describe the traditionally dark side of the day — long lines, pushy shoppers, low inventory, and tired cashiers. This year, though, you may be able to escape all that; many retailers are running their Black Friday sales online as well as in-store due to the pandemic. Here’s how to get everything on your list and then some:

Tip #1: What are you looking for? Write. It. Down.

It can be easy, once you get online and see all the sales, to get sidetracked by all the shiny new objects over here and blinking sales lights over there. Go into the weekend with a list and a plan for hunting down the items you really want and go after them. Once you’ve purchased your must-haves, then you can browse and see what else is out there. You’re going to feel much more productive and good about your budget, though, if you take care of the things on your list first.

Tip #2: Sign up now for your favorite retailer’s emails and/or texts.

Ultimate Guide: Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping | thegoodstuff

This is the best way to be the first to know when and what’s going on sale, especially when it comes to “doorbusters.” Those used to be the hot deals that stores would feature in ads to get shoppers in their doors, but you can find online doorbusters now, too—just be forewarned that there may be limited inventory at rock-bottom prices and the deals may only last for hours. Signing up for emails is the best way to stay in the know. You can also sign up for emails from Coupons.com—we stay on top of all the best online deals so you don’t have to.

Pro tip: To find a bunch of great deals from multiple retailers all in one spot, check out our full list of the top Black Friday sales!

Tip #3: If you don’t want to pay for shipping, check to see if you can do curbside pickup.

Ultimate Guide: Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping | thegoodstuff

Some stores will let you purchase online, then come to the store to pick up your merchandise. You should be able to find quite a few “free shipping” deals over the weekend, but if you want something right away or the store you’re shopping at is not offering free shipping (and they have a brick-and-mortar location near you), see if they mention curbside pickup on their website.

Tip #4: When you’re checking out, don’t stop at one promo code.

Ultimate Guide: Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping | thegoodstuff

Many online retailers will let you add more than one coupon or promo code at checkout, so if you’re ready to pay after applying just one, STOP. Check their policy. What happens if you add a promo code for free shipping plus another for a percentage discount? Victoria’s Secret, for example, will allow you to add two codes at checkout. Be sure to check out the retailer pages at Coupons.com to see how many coupons codes are currently running, and then see how many you can add when you’re ready to pay.

Tip #5: Check your credit cards for retail cash back offers and use the ones that give you the most back.

Ultimate Guide: Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping | thegoodstuff

You might have one Visa that gives you 2% cash back on all your purchases, but what if you also have a MasterCard that has a special cash back offer for a particular retailer that’ll give you even more money back? Best practice: Take an inventory of your credit and debit cards and see which ones are the most lucrative to use (and where) this holiday season—some credit card companies may be offering slightly higher cash back rates or special cash back offers from retailers that’ll help you save even more on top of the promo codes and free shipping codes you’re already using.

Tip #6: Take advantage of the chat feature on many retailers’ websites if you run into issues or questions.

Ultimate Guide: Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping | thegoodstuff

The nice thing about shopping in store is the direct access you have to a sales person. But more and more retailers are adding a chat feature to their websites with the rise in e-commerce, so if you have questions or something didn’t go quite right when you checked out with your purchase, look for an opportunity to chat immediately with a customer service rep. If that’s not possible, locate a phone number and get in touch that way. Emailing is always an option also, but it’ll usually result in the longest response time.

Cyber Monday Shopping

Tip #1: Make a list and check it twice before Monday even hits.

It helps prevent unnecessary impulse buys, and by the time you get to Cyber Monday after a successful Black Friday, you might be dealing with a more limited budget. As with Black Friday, many merchants announce their online offers well in advance. Check Coupons.com for a great roundup of Cyber Monday deals available from hundreds of merchants, as well as the best available promo codes.

Tip #2: Protect yourself.

Ultimate Guide: Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping | thegoodstuff

Online shopping has become so commonplace, people forget that there are still risks. With tons of shoppers eager to transmit credit card info on Cyber Monday, scammers are salivating. To protect yourself, download the latest updates for your anti-virus and spyware software. Also, make sure any checkout page is secure by looking for the “https” in the address.

Tip #3: Enlist your friends.

Ultimate Guide: Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping | thegoodstuff

I mean, why not? Just because you’re not shopping in person doesn’t mean you can’t shop together. Start a chat thread, hop on a Zoom call, FaceTime each other—the more you collaborate on finding the best deals available, the easier (and more fun) your Cyber Monday shopping will be. You might even decide to hold a contest to see which one of you can find the best deal of the day.

Tip #4: Know the details.

Ultimate Guide: Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping | thegoodstuff

Each Cyber Monday offer has information about when it starts and how many items are available. Pay attention to the fine print and set your alarm (or just stay up) if you’re hoping to score a deal that begins at 12:01 a.m. Even more so than Black Friday deals, Cyber Monday sales and deals will often have short windows of opportunity, to pay attention to the details and write them down if you need to.

Tip #5: Read reviews.

Ultimate Guide: Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping | thegoodstuff

Let’s be honest: Some of Monday’s markdowns are attempts to unload junk and make room for something better. When you’re shopping for high-priced items like TVs, read up on reviews and compare them with reviews for similar models. Try CNET for reviews of consumer items, from cell phones to laptops to slow cookers.

Tip #6: Peruse social media for your favorite brands and follow them.

Ultimate Guide: Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping | thegoodstuff

Photo by Gil C

If you haven’t already, like your favorite stores on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, find them on Tik Tok, locate them on Pinterest, and follow them on Instagram. In the days leading up to Cyber Monday, some stores will post additional offers exclusive to their social media followers—but more than anything, it’ll keep you in the know about latest deals, sales and promotions that will be coming your way.

Tip #7: Do as much in advance as possible.

Ultimate Guide: Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping | thegoodstuff

Get ready by bookmarking your favorite sites in advance. Keep them open in different tabs so switching from one store to the next is easy. Use both your computer and smartphone to optimize your shopping time (some retailers will run app-exclusive offers, so it might be worth downloading an app or two). If a merchant requires you to create an account before purchasing, do it now. And be sure to check Coupons.com often for the latest online sales. It’s much easier to let professionals aggregate the best deals and steals so you can find them all in one place.


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