Shop Smart – tips for Black Friday, Cyber Monday shopping

FREMONT—As Thanksgiving approaches, many holiday shoppers will be heading out the door or going to their computers for the biggest shopping weekend of the year. They will be bombarded with ads promising huge deals during Black Friday, November 23rd and the days leading up to it.

Although Black Friday is still the busiest shopping day of the year for brick-and-mortar stores, over the past few years, Black Friday is no longer a single day event but lasts for a week. Retailers have been starting their Black Friday Sales on Thanksgiving Day, Thanksgiving Eve and as early as the Monday before Thanksgiving.

In 2017, according to stats from Adobe Analytics, shoppers spent a record $5 billion on Black Friday in brick-and-mortar stores – a 17% increase from 2016. Additionally, Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday drew $7.9 billion in online sales – an 18% increase from 2016. Forty percent of these purchases were done from mobile phones.

For those shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, Better Business Bureau (BBB) has this advice to help you make the most of the sales:

  • Don’t rely on ads alone. Do price comparisons, examine the fine print, research companies and compare prices before opening your wallet.
  • Know store return policies. Check store or website policies on returns in advance. This can help you decide where to buy. Return policies may include restocking fees, shorter return deadlines and other terms and conditions. Also, keep your receipt in case you want to return the item.
  • Ask for gift receipts. Gift receipts generally include a description of the item purchased but do not disclose the price paid. Without proof-of-purchase, the recipient may be turned down for returning or exchanging the item, or risk receiving an exchange at a lower value.
  • BUY LOCAL on Small Business Saturday. Set aside some time to frequent small businesses in your community.  Local shops may be offering special bargains that day.

Many shoppers also participate in Cyber Monday because of the 24-hour convenience offered by online shopping. People are able to avoid the crowds on Black Friday, and they can take advantage of the sales and delivery specials that online retailers offer.

Adobe Analytics reported that Cyber Monday brought in $6.59 billion last year, making it the largest online sales day in history, and it is predicted to increase this year. Adobe predicts that “Cyber Monday will set a new record as the largest and fastest growing online shopping day of the year with $7.7 billion in sales, a 17.6 percent increase year over year. Online sales between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Pacific Time on Cyber Monday is expected to drive more revenue than an average full day in 2018, with conversions hitting the highest rate of the year, 7.3 percent, during these golden hours of online retail.”
With online sales taking a bigger piece of the holiday shopping pie, BBB wants to remind you to be mindful of your online transactions and to know your rights.

  • Pay with a credit card. Using a credit card is recommended because the shopper can dispute the charges if the item is not received. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card, and some card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the cardholder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.
  • Keep documentation of your order. After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by e-mail. Save a copy of the web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.
  • Watch for phishing emails: With all the promotional emails received during the holidays, scammers will be out in full force. It’s best not to click on links from senders you don’t recognize. You can also hover your mouse over links without clicking to see if the address is really taking you to where it says it is. Also, check the reply email address. The address should be on a company domain. Watch for look-alike domains.