Holiday shopping isn't for the faint of heart. Thankfully, in this day and age you have a myriad of options to choose from to score the perfect gifts for the season.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when big retailers offer major markdowns on hot items, marks the official start of the holiday shopping season.

Then, for those that want to avoid crazy Black Friday lines or those who want to get even MORE discount shopping in, Cyber Monday takes place on the Monday following Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday is another major shopping day, but this time the big deals are all offered online.

Which holiday will you shop on this year,
Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Or perhaps both?

Let's start by comparing the two with a few fun facts.

Black Friday weekend sales hit a record $59.1 billion in 2012.

The average consumer spent $423 on Black Friday in 2012.

23% of Black Friday shoppers camped out at a store before it opened.

More than 307 million people shopped in stores in 2012, a 3.5% climb from 2011.

57% of Black Friday shoppers consider it a "fun experience."

Cyber Monday sales hit a record high of $1.47 billion in 2012, a 17% increase from the previous year.

13% of Cyber Monday sales were made on smartphones or tablets in 2012

Also in 2012, the iPad generated more traffic than any other tablet or smartphone, driving more than 7% of online shopping

The top category for sales in 2012 was digital content and subscriptions.

The holiday shopping season is truly the "most wonderful time of the year" for retailers, raking in $586 billion in 2012. Both online and brick-and-mortar stores are jumping the gun to start sales earlier than ever before to boost revenue.

25% of e-commerce retailers launch online sales before Cyber Monday.

Some major retail chains are opening their doors for Black Friday at Midnight, some even earlier on Thanksgiving Day.

Here are the biggest advantages to braving the crowds on Black Friday:

You can shop for deals in person

Depending on your personality and shopping preference, you may enjoy shopping for presents in the flesh to get the hands-on holiday experience. Plus, you'll get to dig for bargain items at the bottom of the clearance bin for the best deals!

Your hard work can pay off

If you're willing to line up at a store before midnight, you could score a Black Friday doorbuster awarded to early bird customers; past doorbusters have included heavily discounted electronics, laptops, and smartphones - often limited to one per customer.

You'll get in the holiday spirit

Many families make a tradition out of staying up all night on Thanksgiving and hitting Black Friday sales first thing in the morning.

On the other side of the coin, Black Friday disadvantages include:

You'll wait in excruciatingly long lines

If you don't have a friend with you to pass the time, you may go stir-crazy camping out in front of stores for hours before they open to keep your spot in line. Stores offering major doorbusters, like Best Buy, saw 36 hour wait times in 2012.

You'll literally fight for the best deal

Early-morning shoppers can be ruthless on Black Friday. In some worst-case scenarios, Black Friday injuries are a reality, related to crowd violence, stampedes, and even shootings.

You may miss out on major deals

Even if you wait for hours for a Black Friday special, there's no guarantee that you'll get your hands on the big bargain if items sell out fast. There's nothing more frustrating than investing a big chunk of your day, only to leave a sale empty-handed.

Once Black Friday rolls around, it's time to hit the ground running with these helpful shopping tips:

Research preferred stores and ads online in advance.

Choose the store with the best doorbuster to camp out at.

Take ads with you for the lowest price guarantee.

Use in-store credit cards for an extra discount off the top.

Shop on Thanksgiving night for the earliest deals available.

There are some major pluses to Christmas shopping with the click of a mouse, like:

You can shop without leaving your desk

The entire draw of online shopping is its speed and convenience; as you head back to work on Monday morning, you can scout out dirt-cheap Christmas gifts that will be delivered straight to your doorstep. Even better, you don't have to wake up at 5 AM to sniff out the deals.

You can compare prices easily

To get the best Cyber Monday deal, price comparison is the name of the game. With just a few clicks, you can visit competing retailers online to find the lowest price on major Christmas purchases.

You'll stick to your budget

If you find yourself struggling with impulse buys when shopping in person, stick to a set Christmas list as you browse Cyber Monday sales. Shopping from behind the safety of your computer screen could help you to save money by focusing only on the gifts you need to buy.

Some of the disadvantages of Cyber Monday shopping include:

Some doorbusters may not apply

Though most retailers will advertise outstanding Cyber Monday specials and freebies online, you may not find the same doorbusters offered in person. If a must-have item like a $200 flat screen TV is only available in-store, you may have to brave the crowds to get it.

You can't "try it on for size"

Most Cyber Monday retailers will offer an ironclad return policy, especially for defective merchandise, but you won't be able to see and touch items the same way you would shopping in a store.

Your boss may not like it

Make sure to check with your employer's online shopping policy before hitting the Cyber Monday sales come Monday morning; a great deal isn't worth losing your job over!

Get that mouse-clicking finger ready with these Cyber Monday shopping tips:

Use a PayPal account for a faster checkout time.

Follow your favorite retailers on Facebook or Twitter for free shipping deals and special Cyber Monday promo codes.

Sign up for email newsletters in advance to get Cyber Monday coupons in your inbox.

Compare prices of your favorite items from multiple online retailers before making a final buy.

Don't click on email links from unknown retailers to protect against viruses and scams.

Which Holiday Is the Winner?

Though Black Friday has long been considered the official holiday to kick start the Christmas shopping season, Cyber Monday is quickly taking the lead in this digital age.

One important factor tips the scales when it comes to holiday shopping appeal: customer sentiment.




Based on social media mentions in 2012, a growing number of Black Friday shoppers felt impatient or tired amidst their excitement. Other Black Friday shoppers posted feelings of anger and concern, along with happiness and eagerness.



In comparison, Cyber Monday shoppers were much more excited about their online shopping prospects, mixed with feelings of happiness. Smaller percentages of Cyber Monday shoppers reported feelings of boredom, concern, and anger.

Cyber Monday appeal is on the rise, while Black Friday popularity may be waning in comparison.

Nonetheless, your shopping decision may come down to personal preference this holiday season.

If it is a long-lived tradition to hit up Black Friday sales with your family after a gut-busting Thanksgiving meal, you may be lining up around the block with millions of other shoppers. If you'd rather scout for deals online with your feet up at your desk, you'll have

the same opportunity to save money as you tackle your holiday shopping list.


  1. Li, Anita. "Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday: How Do You Prefer to Shop?" Mashable.
  2. "Black Friday vs Cyber Monday - Business Insider." Business Insider.
  3. King, Rachel. “Cyber Monday 2012: By the numbers” ZDNet.
  4. “Cyber Monday Report 2012” IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark.
  5. Fox, Emily Jane. “Black Friday shopping hits a new record” CNN Money.
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