It’s not even December yet, but the online shopping frenzy is on! Black Friday starts tomorrow (23 November 2018), lasting until Cyber Monday (26 November 2018).
Once upon a time, retail relied on December in the lead-up to Christmas and then the post-Christmas January sales. Mid-year sales were also important but December was the biggie. But now November is becoming the online shopping month.
With lead times needed for packaging and sending goods, it makes sense for online retailers to focus on November. First, it starts with 11 November – 11/11 or ‘Singles Day’, which encourages single people in China to celebrate their single status. In recent years it has also encouraged single people (or any people really) to spend up big. It is now the largest shopping day in the world. And it is not just in China – even on a recent trip to Brussels, I saw signs on shop windows advertising Singles Day specials. Expect this to become even bigger in Australia with the growing presence of AliExpress.
Then there is Click Frenzy, which is held annually since 2012 on the second Tuesday in November (i.e. a week after the Melbourne Cup race). If you can get onto the site before it crashes (which it frequently does due to popularity), there are many items at reduced prices.
And now, tomorrow, there is the big American online sales – Black Friday (held just after Thanksgiving) and Cyber Monday. The two are often merged into one long weekend. With Amazon now in Australia and many online American retailers as well, this is becoming a big online long weekend shopping fest.
Here are some guidelines about how to save money during the sales:
- Buy nothing at all. If you commit to not buying anything you will be in good company. The Buy Nothing New month is held annually in November. There is also a Buy Nothing Day, which this year is on Saturday 24 November timed to coincide with the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales. In the words of my Neil, “I think the sales are just designed to get you to buy shit you don’t need.”
- Make a list and check it twice. These sales can be great for organized Christmas shoppers. Last year, after only having dated a few months, my Neil shrugged his shoulders and declared he had ‘no idea’ what to buy his family. Apparently, he had ‘no idea’ what his twin sister would like for Chrissy let alone his children and the rest of his family. As I was new, wanted to make a good impression and hadn’t yet socialised his family to my frugalista ways, I shopped online. Most of my Christmas shopping was done through Catch of the Day during the Black Friday sales, and I do believe I got a lot of dash for my cash. (Note: this year I know the in-laws well enough to be able to start the conversation about less commercial, or ideally no, gifts.)
- Snap up some travel deals. It’s not just ‘stuff’ on sale: if you are planning on travelling in 2019 or beyond, there are some great bargains for package holidays, accommodation and other experiences.
- Get cash back. Before you even click onto the site where you plan to make your end purchase, visit Cashrewards or ShopBack. You can make it easier to remember by downloading their browser so it will pop up when you are on a site that they offer a cash back for. This is an example of how it works: you visit ShopBack, log in, then go to Groupon/Catch/Amazon/eBay/Booking.com or whatever site you want to buy something off. If you make a purchase, you get an additional ‘cash back’ bonus from ShopBack (e.g. in addition to your deal on site you would get 7%/3%/8%/1% or 6% respectively). Also, there is a friend referral scheme; you can click on my friend referral to get $5 from ShopBack and $10 from Cashrewards. [Terms and conditions usually require a purchase within a set time. At the time of writing, I prefer ShopBack as I find it processes its cash back and referral bonuses quicker.]
- Shop securely. This year I’ve had problems with an eBay purchase (flashing stars and stripes male shoes sent instead of two keyboards – seller kept trying to negotiate with me to pay for them) and some damaged Aliexpress goods. Purchase with a credit card that has purchase protection, and/or shop with PayPal (which I believe has a 45 day buyer protect policy).
- Allow enough time for delivery. I got caught out last year ordering items some that did not arrive before Christmas, even though it was ‘guaranteed’ to do so. Things do occasionally go wrong, so allow enough time or ideally don’t order anything online you desperately need. Note also that items from overseas take longer, and some supposedly local stores are really fronts for overseas businesses anyway.
Are you planning to shop during Black Friday and Cyber Monday? If so, what are you looking at?