Cyber Monday sales: Tips for safe and effective online shopping

Expectations are for more than $3 Billion in online cyber Monday sales Before starting your holiday spend, check out these tips for online shopping and the best places to shop


WASHINGTON, November 30, 2015 – The competition for holiday sales is ever present between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  As an online shopper, this writer has received dozens of text messages – the most coming in from Lord and Taylor and Old Navy – and emails attempting to entice the spending of holiday budgets.

Cyber Monday sales are expected to hit the $3 billion mark for the first time this year — the largest one-day sales total in e-commerce history.

But where can you find your best online deals?

Before you sit down to dash off your Christmas shopping the Better Business Bureau has some safe-shopping tips:

Protect your computer – Your computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.

Stick to trustworthy websites – Research the seller’s reputation and track record for customer satisfaction at Look for BBB’s seal and other widely-recognized “trust marks” on retailer websites. Always remember to click on the seals to confirm that they are valid and check out customer reviews online, including those offered by Better Business Bureau.

Protect your personal information – Take the time to read the privacy policy of websites you visit and understand what personal information is being collected and how it will be used. If you don’t see a privacy policy posted, be aware your information may be sold without your permission.

Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – Offers found on less-traveled websites and in unsolicited emails sometimes advertise suspiciously low prices. When visiting a website, look for misspellings and grammatical errors, as these are signs the site might be fraudulent.

Trust your instincts and be leery of unsolicited emails, as they may contain viruses or malware. Don’t be afraid to pass up “great deals” that might wind up costing you dearly instead of saving you money.

Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order or a past transaction to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. If a consumer receives such an email, BBB recommends picking up the phone and calling the retailer you dealt with or your credit card provider to get to the bottom of the matter. Stay calm, don’t panic and always be protective of your personal and financial information.

Confirm your online purchase is secure – Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying.

Pay with a credit card – It’s often best to use a credit card, because under federal law, the shopper can dispute the charge if he or she doesn’t receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card or merchandise they receive is damaged.

Keep documentation of your order – After completing the online order process, there should be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by email. Save a copy of that as well as any emails for future reference and as a record of your purchase.

Check your credit card statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements; BBB recommends consumers check their credit card statements for suspicious activity by checking statements online regularly or by calling their credit card companies if fraud is suspected.

This writers number one tip for buying online is stick to companies you know and that list a physical address and phone number on their sites. Call them if you have concerns before you give them your information. If you are not sure about a retailer on line, simply search “XYZ Retailer reviews” or check sites like for reviews.

Another tip is to get a dedicated shopping email address where you can easily track receipts and delivery information.  That will also be the address that those retailers send their future sales flyers to, so a dedicated shopping email keeps your work or personal email box tidy.

Also, always – always – check return policies.  Number of days, return shipping fees, how do the refund your purchase – back to your card, or for a future purchase.

Another helpful tip is to have a measuring tape or ruler handy.  I bought some adorable bowls from Groupon and while for the cost of the bowls (a very good deal), I am satisfied with the purchase, but they are much smaller than I anticipated.

Finally, check their delivery policy. Is it in stock and will it be delivered in time for holiday gift giving

So where should you go to shop? surveyed 3,128 deals from 30 of the biggest U.S. retailers to showcase the ones offering the largest advertised discounts for each product category in 2015.

Best Retailers for Cyber Week

  1. Groupon (62%)
  2. Belk (59%)
  3. Bon-Ton (56%)
  4. JC Penny (53%)
  5. Macy’s (52%)
  6. eBay (50%)
  7. Kohl’s (50%)
  8. Sears (49%)
  9. Amazon (42%)
  10. KMart (40%)

Key Stats

  • Groupon has the highest overall discount rate, at 62 percent, whereas Gander Mountain has the lowest, at 14 percent.
  • “Jewelry” is the most discounted category, at 56 percent, whereas “Computers & Phones” and “Video Games (software only)” are the least discounted, at 28 percent.
  • The overall average discount for Cyber Week is 36 percent. Consumers should aim for this or a greater discount in order to avoid Cyber Week traps.
  • Representing 15 percent of all Cyber Week offers, “Apparel & Accessories” is the category with the biggest number of discounted items, whereas the “Video Games (software only)” category has the smallest, comprising only 1.3 percent of all offers. offers the following tech deals


Laptops & Tablets




In 5 out of 9 products, the discount was bigger on Black Friday, and in 4 out of 9 products, the discount is bigger during Cyber Week.
For the full report and to see where each retailer ranks for each product category, visit

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