Sign In

7 Ways Cyber Monday Is Different From Black Friday

It's easy to lump Cyber Monday into the Black Friday fold, but this $3 billion shopping holiday has some unique traits of its own.
Published
Cyber Monday deals

When discussing late-November sales, we frequently refer to the "Black Friday season." This is because the big day itself has morphed into something bigger, even absorbing Thanksgiving. We often rope Cyber Monday into this term, too, as retailers tend to roll one day of sales into another at this time of year.

But Cyber Monday exhibits its own unique traits outside of Black Friday, starting with the fact that it's outpacing the "main" shopping holiday in savings. Cyber Monday saw more Editors' Choice deals than Black Friday in both 2014 and 2013.

So what makes Cyber Monday so special? Read on to learn a little more about everyone's second-favorite shopping holiday.

Cyber Monday Has Happier Origins

Pinning down the origin of the term "Black Friday" is not easy, but the current prevailing theory goes like this: Philadelphia police negatively coined the term in the 1950s. Apparently, hordes of people would descend upon the town on the Friday after Turkey Day, ahead of the annual Army/Navy football game on Saturday. Stores would take advantage of all the extra business by promoting big sales, and cops were stuck with long, busy shifts that left them dreading the date.

Black Friday didn't come into its more widespread, awesome reputation until the 1980s. But Cyber Monday's origins are much more recent; the term was coined by the National Retail Federation in 2005 to describe the Monday after Thanksgiving, when people continued to shop online after returning to work. And nothing makes anyone happier than goofing off at work!

And There Are Fewer Ads

Before you've even thought about where to find the best deal on a turkey, you're no doubt aware of the upcoming Black Friday sales. This is because retailers (and intrepid deal sites) have been posting Black Friday ads far in advance, sometimes as early as the beginning of October. However, we see comparatively fewer Cyber Monday ads — possibly because retailers know that shoppers will check out those sales anyway.

According to a recent DealNews survey, 85% of consumers said they'll be shopping on Cyber Monday, up from 76% in 2014. Compare that to the 53% of people who said they would shop on Thanksgiving. Too many Cyber Monday ads might discourage even more Thanksgiving shoppers.

In-Store Doorbusters Go Bye-Bye

Along with fewer ads comes a dearth of doorbusters. Cyber Monday is an online shopping holiday, after all, so there's no reason to go knocking down the doors of your local Sears to score a $5 toaster. Of course, "doorbusters" in general are dying out. In-store shoppers have long been frustrated by the concept of low-stock items that sell out in seconds, and retailers are listening. Nowadays, it's not uncommon to find so-called doorbusters listed online on Black Friday.

Cyber Monday Has the Most Online Sales

We're not talking about coupons here; by "sales," we actually mean goods sold. Cyber Monday is the biggest online shopping day of the year, and Adobe has estimated that it'll reach $3 billion in sales for the first time this year, a 12% increase over 2014. Compare that to Black Friday, which is expected to generate $2.7 billion in online sales, and Thanksgiving, which will do $1.6 billion.

Why are shoppers still eager to spend funds on Cyber Monday, even after Black Friday? According to Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst for forecast tech consultancy Forrester Research, it's because "customers had fewer negative associations with Cyber Monday than with Black Friday." See? Everyone loves shopping at work.

But Fewer Mobile Shoppers

That same Adobe report we mentioned above revealed that Thanksgiving is projected to become the king of mobile sales in 2015. For the first time ever, mobile devices will overtake more traditional computers on Thanksgiving to drive the majority — 51% — of online visits, representing 29% of online purchases that day. This mobile mania won't last, though; both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are expected to see more traditional online traffic.

Some People Are Totally Shopping at Work

And you thought we were joking! While not a federal holiday, the Friday after Thanksgiving is a public holiday in 24 states. By Monday, everyone is back at work and almost certainly browsing sales at their desks. To be fair, a wonderfully industrious 56% of shoppers claimed they didn't shop at work last year in our survey.

Sadly, these hardworking shoppers may miss out on the best bargains. Last year on DealNews, 67% of the deals we found on Cyber Monday were posted before 5 pm ET. That means bargain hunters will have to log on during business hours to snag the best sales.

Fashionistas Love Cyber Monday

The Black Friday season is like the Olympics, with different shopping events on each shopping holiday. Where Thanksgiving and Black Friday are better for electronics, Cyber Monday shines in soft goods. Clothes and shoes are especially awesome buys, with retailers busting out Black Friday-beating coupons in several cases. Beauty products are another oft-overlooked, but awesome, Cyber Monday category.

Should you not be the sartorial sort, you can always stock up on toys, or shop for a new major appliance. Better yet, book a killer hotel deal on Cyber Monday; you've probably had enough of those visiting relatives at this point.

In the end, if you've been ignoring Cyber Monday, it's time to give this hardworking holiday another shot. With billions of dollars under its belt, this shopping extravaganza is here to stay!

Excited for Cyber Monday deals? Consider subscribing to the DealNews Select Newsletter to get a daily recap of all our deals; you never know when a Black Friday price will be released! You can also read our features for more buying advice.


Related DealNews Features:
Features Writer

Marcy pens consumer news stories of all sorts, in addition to adding pithy prose to many of the roundups you see every day. Her work for DealNews has appeared on sites like Lifehacker, the Huffington Post, and MSN Money. She is by far the most metal member of the DealNews staff, and you can see why by following her on Twitter @ThatBonebright.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Unless marked as a "Sponsored Deal," the opinions expressed here are those of the author and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the companies mentioned. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
You might also like
Leave a comment!
or Register
2 comments
MoonTowerMan
I'm so glad someone posted the correct information... That's the reason that I've heard every year for more than a decade. Long before it was marketed and packaged as an event and became a meme. While it's possible a few racist or otherwise unhappy cops in 1950's Philly used the term, I think it highly unlikely it would have made the jump from that to an industry term that describes a day in the year that coincidently is around the time this well known term in accounting takes place. Even less likely is that a term with such beginnings would be one that public corporations would be wanting to associated with... You'd need some very concrete proof to convince me. Just because it says it on the Internet... Lol
igloocartel
Black Friday earned its name for one reason only, none of which are listed above or difficult to ascertain. The girth of sales enabled retailers to shift their profit margins from the red (losses) into the black (gains) in time for the fourth quarterly totals. Two different colors of ink are used in all revenue reports. If the business world used green ink to display profits the big sales day would be called 'Green Friday.'