A 'Cyber Monday' Tech Shopping Primer

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The Monday after Thanksgiving could be a bargain hunters' heyday this year, and you don't even have to leave the house. Not to be outdone by the brick-and-mortar retailers' Black Friday sales, online retailers will be offering deep discounts the following Monday, December 1, a day that's called "Cyber Monday."

Last year, consumers spent $733 million on Cyber Monday, and it's expected to be even bigger this year. According to a survey by online shopping site Shopzilla for the National Retail Federation's Shop.org, nearly 84 percent of online retailers plan to have a Cyber Monday promotion on December 1. That's up from just 72 percent last year and zero percent in 2005, says Shop.org executive director Scott Silverman.

(Silverman's organization actually invented Cyber Monday in late 2005 as a gimmick to jump-start online sales in the holiday season. The media soon hyped it, and while it's not the biggest online shopping day of the year, it has certainly caught on among e-tailers.)

And there is evidence to suggest that online retailers will be trotting out even sweeter deals this year to compete for their share of consumers' 2008 holiday spending, although that spending is expected to be much smaller than last year, which set a record for online shopping. "Retailers this year will be very aggressive pricing-wise and promotion-wise," says TigerDirect VP of business development Bruce Matthews. "Cyber Monday was the biggest day of the year for us last year--bigger than Black Friday," he adds.

I suggest visiting three types of sites--Cyber Monday sites, tech retailer sites, and deal aggregation sites--on December 1 to find the best prices.

Before Cyber Monday, check out GottaDeal.com, which posts "leaked" Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads from many online tech retailers. Even better, you can also lurk at the site's Forum to find out about newly announced Cyber Monday deals as they come in. "I expect the online retailers to be sending an avalanche of info over the next 2-3 days and I'll be adding everything to that forum for our members to discuss," GottaDeal founder Brad Olson writes in an e-mail to PC World.

On the Big Day, stop by Shop.org's CyberMonday.com which posts a load of information on, and links to, the day's online deals.

Most Major Retailers Running Deals

You can also visit online retailers directly to get the deals straight from the horse's mouth. Here's what we know so far about the discount plans of major online tech retailers for Cyber Monday:

NewEgg.com: A representative says NewEgg.com will indeed be running Cyber Monday deals, and that shoppers should sign up for the NewEgg newsletter to find out about the deals in advance. Just type in your e-mail address at the site, and they'll send you the tip sheet.

TigerDirect: The company is not divulging brand names, but promises to have deals on HDTVs (a 32-inch HDTV for $450, a 40-incher for $700), and on PCs, notebooks, GPS gear, cameras, printers, components, and more. Tiger Direct's Matthews says customers will be saving anywhere from $100 to $300 on each deal.

BestBuy.com: A PR person tells me they're planning a two-day Cyber Monday sale that begins Sunday. Best Buy isn't divulging the details of the sale, saying only that it will offer free shipping "across several product categories."

Overstock.com: A spokesperson says the company will be offering free shipping site-wide, special discounts on TVs, and an "extra 10 percent off" cameras and camcorders.

Dell.com: Dell will be holding a sale on home PCs and peripherals on December 1, featuring PC's as low as $300. No further information is available until the day of the sale.

Staples.com: The site will be offering deals on selected Envision HDTVs, Hewlett-Packard PCs, Xerox printers, Magellan GPS systems, Nikon digital SLR cameras, and numerous accessories.

Kmart.com: You'll find TomTom and Magellan GPS navigation systems heavily discounted. The site will offer free shipping on orders of more than $29.

Target.com: A spokesperson says that Target.com will be offering free shipping on more than 60,000 products (including some electronics), starting November 30 and ending December 13.

Buy.com: This site will have sales on at least one HDTV ($1000 off one 52-incher, brand unknown), and on GPS navigation systems and various PC peripherals, plus deep discounts on some printers. For many of these items, it will throw in free shipping as well.

Check Out the Deal Sites

It's a also good idea to check out a few deal aggregator sites on Cyber Monday. Hundreds of these sites out are there now, but these are the ones I think do the best job with tech stuff:

Finally, A Little Advice

When bargain hunting on the Web for tech products (or anything else), it's very important to do your homework, not just to find the best prices out there, but to make sure that the "bargain price" you're getting is based on a real--and not an inflated--list price. Twenty-five percent off a list price that's already been jacked up 25 percent isn't much of a deal. For more information and tips on online tech shopping, see our Senior Editor Denny Arar's take on the subject.

A lot of people will be getting up early and fighting the crowds at the mall for that special deal on Black Friday. With everything you know now, you can spend Friday at home finishing off the turkey, and do your gadget shopping at work on (Cyber) Monday morning.

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