Black Friday vs Cyber Monday (Which is Better?)

You might already be planning your holiday haul and deciding what to buy when and from where.

If not, you need to start planning now! Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday have huge deals with big discounts to check off gifts for everyone on your list.

Knowing what deals to buy on Friday and wait to buy on Monday can help you save a few bucks.

As far as deals, online shopping typically offers better discounts whether on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. But it also depends on the items you want to buy.

Black Friday is a multiple-day event throughout the Thanksgiving weekend and most consumers shop in-store, and it is better for big items like TV and Appliances. Cyber Monday is a single-day event and is for online shopping only, and it is better for tech items such as Laptops and Computers.

Black Friday is still happening in 2020 at many retail stores. However, you may need to comply with mask mandates and social distancing policies in line with local regulations.

Some stores are spreading sales over several days and encouraging shoppers to do the bulk of their shopping online. Check your local store for more details.

Since it pays to have a plan, here are the pros and cons of both Black Friday and Cyber Monday and what deals are best to buy from each sale so you can start making your lists now.

The Main Difference

The main difference between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is the day of the week they fall on.

Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving. They both have good deals, although some items are better bought on one day rather than the other.

Black Friday dates back as far as 1869 when the term was first used. Cyber Monday has only been around since 2005.

Over the years, it’s become a tradition for stores to start their sales on the day after Thanksgiving, now known as the official day for Black Friday. But to be honest, Black Friday is more like a week than a day.

Black Friday sales have increasingly been moved early, with some bargains starting as early as Thanksgiving day and extending to the last week of Thanksgiving.

And the Monday after Thanksgiving is now known as Cyber Monday for its online deals.

Here’s a quick summary in the table below of the main differences between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

 Black FridayCyber Monday
WhenLast Friday of NovemberFollowing Monday
Online dealsYesYes
In store dealsYesNo
Limited stock for dealsYesYes
Time sensitive dealsYesYes
Ads posted in advanceYesYes
Crowds?Most LikelyNo
One-day event?NoYes

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest rushes of the holiday season for your Christmas shopping, but they offer different benefits. Black Friday is traditionally an in-person shopping event, known for shoppers crawling on top of each other to get the last of the limited deals.

Over the last twelve years, 11 people have died and 100 more have been injured in Black Friday incidents. In 2005, Cyber Monday came about in response to the craziness of Black Friday to offer a safer, at-home option. It’s also when you’ll find more tech-heavy sales.

And Black Friday in-store shopping usually comes with a crowd and a line. I’ve shopped at both for a few years now and I can remember many sleepless nights waiting outside a store at 5 am to get there before the rush. But the rush comes earlier and earlier every year.

Historically, items in store for Black Friday have sold out faster than online as shoppers clamor over one another to get the last of the deal items. Walmart and other retailers have had to create traffic patterns on Black Friday to ensure shoppers have the same access to all items.

2020 may be different than in past years. With the pandemic this year, more people may be shopping online which means items may sell out faster.

While you might not need to camp out in front of a store for the deals, you’ll need to be ready at whatever time the online deals go live to snatch them before they’re gone.

Black Friday Pros & Cons

  • You can shop in store, try things on, see the actual size
  • Great for buying big-ticket items that you don’t want to pay shipping on
  • If you miss an item in store, you still have a chance to order it online (for most products)
  • You may face long lines to get into the store, and at check out
  • You need to get there early before items sell out
  • Crowds often fill retail stores on Black Friday, making it pretty chaotic
  • You might lose sleep getting those early deals
  • You might buy more than you planned as you see deals in person

Who Should Shop on Black Friday:

  • Those looking for big ticket items like appliances
  • Those wanting an in person experience, or who enjoy shopping with friends

What to Buy on Black Friday:

Black Friday is generally better for big items and shopping in store. Look for these deals on Black Friday, or even the week before Thanksgiving to make sure you don’t miss them:

  • Televisions
  • Toys
  • Gaming Consoles
  • Appliances
  • Furniture
  • ‘Doorbuster’ items (check retail ads for details)

Related: Does Best Buy Have Student Discount?

What Not to Buy on Black Friday:

Although it may seem like the perfect time for all gifts, not every Black Friday sale is a good deal. Some things you should wait until New Year deals or later to purchase like:

  • Winter coats –best time to buy winter clothing is in the Spring
  • Fine jewelry – best time to buy is Valentine’s Day
  • Fitness equipment – best time to buy is January is when fitness equipment sales are best (along with your new year’s determination)
  • Holiday decorations and candy – best time to buy is December 26th to new year’s
  • Mattresses – same as bedding, the best deals are in January
  • Outdoor furniture – best time to buy is right after summer, around Labor Day
  • Bedding – best time to buy is in January where discounts can be up to 70% off

Related: How to Save Money at Home Depot

Cyber Monday Pros & Cons

  • You can shop from home, in your pajamas
  • Deals are often better online than in person
  • It’s easier to compare prices across stores
  • You still need to snag deals right when they go live before they sell out
  • You won’t have the item immediately ready to wrap or use – you’ll have to wait for shipping
  • On top of that, you might have to pay for shipping

Who Should Shop on Cyber Monday:

  • Those wanting to quickly do their shopping from the convivence of home
  • Those who are looking for tech items
  • Those who want to avoid crowds and lines
  • Those who shop heavily on Amazon

Related: 13 Ways to Get Discounts on Amazon Prime Memberships

What to Buy on Cyber Monday:

Cyber Monday is typically the best time to buy electronics and tech items, as well as smaller gifts. Check out these items on Cyber Monday:

  • Laptops and Computers
  • Clothing
  • Travel bookings
  • Smart home devices
  • Phones
  • Wearable tech

Related: How to Get Discounts on Apple Products

Which is More Popular

Cyber Monday is becoming more popular than Black Friday across the board and may continue to become more popular as people prefer shopping from home during the pandemic.

I personally prefer the convivence of online shopping. Trends show that most shoppers agree with me. Sales are becoming higher online, meaning more people shop online than in the store.

In 2019, Cyber Monday actually surpassed Black Friday in terms of sales with a record of $9.4 billion spent online shopping for Cyber Monday 2019. Maybe it’s to avoid the crowds or the lines, but online shopping has been increasingly popular for holiday shoppers.

Retailers have adapted by offering more deals online for Black Friday. So, both offer good online deals but overall Cyber Monday is more popular.

Useful Tips from Reddit Users

Thousands of shoppers have tried both Cyber Monday and Black Friday over the years, finding great gifts for everyone on their list at good prices. But they have mixed reviews. Some of the comments about Black Friday on Reddit have great insights like the following:

“Read the specs and reviews before you buy any expensive items. Do this all the time, not just on black Friday.”

“I’ve caught a few stores raising prices 1-2 months ahead of time and then “sale” on Friday. I’m cautious now on [Black] Fridays.”

On Cyber Monday, Reddit users say things like the following about whether the shopping day is worth it:

“Depends on the product. Know what the normal price is before it would go on sale.”

“As someone who buys a lot of technology… cyber Monday has some super nice deals. Same with Black Friday, do research know what you are getting, and you will be good.”  

In the end, you may want to focus your holidays more on the reasons for the season and enjoy time with family, good food, and making memories. This is the best advice I found on Reddit:

“Buying things that you never needed, never wanted or you never knew existed will not better your life or increase your happiness…Spend the time reflecting on all you are thankful for.”

Our Advice

Our number one tip for getting the best deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday is to do your homework. Research ahead of time what you want, what deals are available, and what retailer is offering the best price.

You can find stores’ Black Friday or Cyber Monday ads ahead of time to pick out which deals you want to buy. Just google “Walmart Black Friday ads” for example to find a whole list of deals. Preparing ahead of time with a list of what you want will help you prevent grabbing last minute extra items. And, you can plan your route and when the deals go live so you do not miss an item you want.

And remember that before you buy anything on either Cyber Monday or Black Friday, do you research to know what prices are throughout the year to compare if a deal really is a deal or just marketing.

If you’re shopping online, we also recommend browser extensions like Honey which show you how an item’s current price compares to what it’s sold for over the last several months.

Related: Best Money Saving Apps for College Students

Key Takeaways

Black Friday shopping is worth it if you plan ahead and know what you’re looking for. It’s still a lucrative holiday for those wanting some in person shopping experience. But Cyber Monday is increasingly becoming more popular. And, with the social distancing guidelines of 2020, I expect that online shopping will become the norm for holidays in the future. Key points we discussed in this article include:  

  • Black Friday dates back to the 1800s, while Cyber Monday has only been around since 2005
  • Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer online shopping deals, but Black Friday also offers unique in store discounts
  • You should always plan ahead for your holiday shopping and check other stores for deals
  • Be careful if shopping in person during social distancing, and know local guidelines in advance
  • Decide what items are good deals now, such as tech and toys, and what can wait until after the holidays, such as decorations and outdoor furniture
  • Getting a good deal comes down to doing your research
  • While Black Friday and Cyber Monday have great deals, don’t get too caught up in shopping to miss focusing on what matters most during the holidays, and what can actually bring you happiness