Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means mega-shopping days—Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday—are not far behind. And while Black Friday is a term that has been used since the 1960s (in Philadelphia at least), Cyber Monday is a relatively new phenomenon. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Cyber Monday?
Cyber Monday is the online counterpart to Black Friday, the busy shopping day just after Thanksgiving. It marks the start to online holiday shopping—with retailers offering big discounts. The term was coined in 2005 by Ellen Davis, senior director of strategic communications for the National Retail Federation, the Los Angeles Times reports.
“The name Cyber Monday grew out of the observation that millions of otherwise productive working Americans, fresh off a Thanksgiving weekend of window shopping, were returning to high-speed Internet connections at work on Monday and buying what they liked,” The New York Times‘ Michael Barbaro wrote in 2005.
When is Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving. This year it falls on Monday, Nov. 27. However Cyber Monday (like Black Friday) has fallen prey to the “Christmas creep“: Discounts are now being offered during much of November and December (as eBay did this year) and not just on one single day, diluting some of Cyber Monday’s impact.
How does Cyber Monday work?
Michael Brim, founder of BFAds.net, told Real Simple that “Cyber Monday is more of an extension of Black Friday than its own separate holiday.” Many retailers offer deals on both days. But on Cyber Monday, like Black Friday, retailers make limited-time offers, or store-wide discounts. How the sales compare, depends on the retailers (Amazon is known for having better Cyber Monday deals) and what you’re looking to buy.
What time does Cyber Monday start?
Most major retailers begin their sales when the clock strikes midnight on Monday. Cyber Monday deals typically have a shorter duration than Black Friday or Thanksgiving discounts. “Cyber Monday has many more short-lived offers, like Amazon’s lightning deals,” DealNews explains. “So it’s best to stay glued to your screen — whether it’s a laptop, phone, or tablet — as the deals will be fast and furious.”
Is Cyber Monday better than Black Friday?
That depends on your shopping style and what you’re looking to buy.
If you’d prefer to skip crowds and long lines at brick and mortar stores on Black Friday, then Cyber Monday is probably your best bet. If you’re looking for in-store only deals, or to avoid shipping fees or order cancellations (with Cyber Monday, you’re competing for deals on a national or worldwide level, Real Simple notes), in-person shopping is for you.
The type of product you’re looking to buy may also influence your decision: DealNews analyzed 2016 data to break down what day you should shop for which item. While nothing is guaranteed—this is a general guide, they note—DealNews found that Cyber Monday was good for laptops, travel, small kitchen appliances and shoes. Black Friday is best for clothing, and electronics are best purchased on Thanksgiving.
Check out Fortune’s guide for the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.