The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Cyber Monday guide: 5 things to look for as you shop

Employees process orders at an Amazon fulfillment center in the United Kingdom. (Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

If you’re like most Americans, you’ve already begun your holiday shopping. But now it’s Cyber Monday, which for many means diving into a whole new set of online deals (likely from your desk at work).

The majority of Americans — 56 percent — say they’ll shop on Cyber Monday, up from 39 percent last year, according to deals website RetailMeNot. Shoppers are projected to spend an average of $205 that day, a 58 percent increase from last year’s $130.

“We’re seeing an increase in customers — and an increase in spending — which means that Cyber Monday has the potential to be even busier than Black Friday,” said Marissa Tarleton, chief marketing officer of RetailMeNot.

But where do you start when it seems like you’ve been bombarded by the same sweeping promotions for weeks on end? Here’s a guide to help you navigate the day’s sales.

1. Broader, sitewide deals. While Black Friday discounts tend to focus on specific items — that $125 Smart TV at Walmart, or $59.99 Barbie townhouses at Toys R Us — Cyber Monday often features store-wide deals, as retailers look to move as much leftover merchandise as possible.

“The discounts aren’t necessarily deeper, but they’re broader and more flexible,” said shopping analyst Trae Bodge.

Target, for example, is offering 15 percent off its entire website, while accessories chain Claire’s is discounting most items by 50 percent.

The ultimate 2017 gift guide

2. Free shipping. Americans don’t just want free shipping anymore — they expect it, analysts say.

“Thanks to Amazon Prime,” a service that comes with an annual fee, “people want free, two-day shipping on everything,” said Natalie Kotlyar, head of the retail practice at consulting firm BDO. “Even expedited shipping isn’t considered a perk anymore.”

Nearly 90 percent of Americans say free shipping is a priority this holiday season, according to Deloitte. Most shoppers — 65 percent —  also said they should be able to receive free expedited shipping in the week leading up to Christmas.

Walmart, Target and Best Buy are all offering free shipping for the entirety of the holiday shopping season, while many specialty retailers — Macy’s and Toys R Us among them — have lowered their minimum-purchase requirements for complimentary shipping. By the time Cyber Monday rolls around, even more companies are likely to jump on the bandwagon. (Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, also owns The Washington Post.)

3. Last-minute announcements and deals through email and social media.

There’s a reason retailers don’t advertise Cyber Monday deals weeks in advance, like they do with Black Friday promotions: They want to see what’s still on shelves — and discount accordingly — at the end of the weekend.

“Retailers have made big bets on what’s in store,” Gaffney said. “If they get to Sunday and feel they’ve messed up — they’ve got too much of something, for example — they can start to adjust for that on Cyber Monday.”

That need for flexibility, she added, means retailers are increasingly turning to social media and email blasts to promote their latest discounts. Walmart, for example, is hosting a live-streamed event on its website from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Cyber Monday, where executives will offer gift ideas and product demos. Dell, meanwhile, is advertising the “lowest prices ever,” with hourly doorbusters between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The L.O.L. Surprise Big Surprise is touted as this year’s most in-demand toy. Here's why it's expected to fly off the shelves. (Video: Taylor Turner/The Washington Post)

4. Discounted toys — as long as you’re not picky. With an average markdown of 19 percent, toys tend to be the most discounted items on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe Analytics, whose software can be found on many retail sites. But here’s the catch: Many of this year’s big-name, highly-sought-after toys are likely to be sold out by then.

“If you want the hottest products, you can’t wait that long,” Gaffney said.

But if the kids on your list just want a scooter, any scooter, this could be a good day to see what’s available.

5. Travel markdowns. Now that Thanksgiving has ended and you’re back at work, airlines and hotel companies want to make sure you waste no time booking your next getaway. is offering $15 off $100 purchases, while says packages will be marked down as much as 50 percent.

“You’ll see a number of deals the week before Black Friday, but the best sales come on Cyber Monday itself,” according to “Browsing the travel sites on Cyber Monday means you’re more likely to see the highest concentration of good offers.”

The site predicts that airlines will offer round-trip fares starting at $20 for travel within the United States, while flights to Europe could start around $200. Looking to visit Asia? You should be able to find round-trip tickets starting at $500.

Hotels — particularly higher-end properties — also tend to offer discounts to shoppers who book directly from their websites. (Last year, the company says, nightly rates for off-the-strip hotels in Las Vegas started at $18 per night.)

Read more:

Americans are feeling richer these days, but they won’t necessarily be spending more on gifts

Hot Holiday Toys: Oonies, Fingerlings, Legos And Some ‘Surprises’

Move Over, Ugly Christmas Sweaters. Famjams Are Here.

Fidget Spinners Sold At Target Contain Lead, Advocacy Group Says