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      Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020: What to Expect and How to Score the Best Deals


      To say everything has been different in 2020 is an understatement. Ever since COVID-19 hit, life has been turned around, from work to school to play. That goes for the upcoming holiday season, too. You might have to carve the turkey over Zoom this Thanksgiving.

      And the typical shopping sprees that follow on Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be different too.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even posted a guide on how to safely celebrate Thanksgiving during the pandemic, including the holiday shopping season. They advise staying close to home and skipping the in-store doorbuster deals in favor of bargain hunting online.

      But just because things have changed doesn’t mean you still can’t get into the holiday shopping spirit to nab the best deals of the year. The good news is you can still score major bargains while staying safe. We consulted the experts to help you do just that!

      Create a Budget

      “Given the economic impact of COVID-19, some Americans’ budgets will be tighter this holiday season,” says Sara Skirboll, Shopping & Trends Expert at RetailMeNot. “Nearly a third of Americans impacted by COVID-19 (30%) say they will have less money to spend on holiday gifts this year.”

      There’s a good chance COVID-19 may have impacted your budget, so the first step should be assessing exactly how much you have to spend, which may be a very different number than last year. Even if wallets are a little slimmer this season, many families are forging ahead, as usual, to create a bright spot for the holidays after a tough 2020.

      “Consumers are searching for normalcy this year,” Skirboll says. “In fact, 66% of Americans will spend the same amount or more on holiday shopping this year to create normalcy for their family.” Decide what’s reasonable and responsible for your own family.

      The Crowds Will Be Online

      Unsurprisingly, data shows that most people will be shopping online instead of in-store this Black Friday.

      “While we expect the same amount of people to be shopping during Black Friday, online traffic will be significantly higher than in-store traffic,” says Jon Vincent, founder of EarlyBlackFriday.com. “This is due to the fact that retailers will be pushing their customers to shop online and avoid a potential COVID-19 liability in their stores. The last thing retailers want to hear is that a super spreader event happened during their in-store Black Friday sale!”

      EarlyBlackFriday.com predicts a 25% increase in online shopping during Black Friday compared to Black Friday 2019. Traditionally, retailers offer their best Black Friday deals exclusively in stores, but now retailers will be putting their best doorbuster deals online.

      “This will limit the reasons for people to shop in stores,” Vincent says. “In fact, we highly recommend you do not go to the stores at all this Black Friday because every deal can be grabbed online safely from your home.”

      Know There Are Still Deals

      It’s no secret that many retailers are hurting after a tough year. While you might assume that means they’re less likely to slash prices, surprisingly, the opposite is true.

      “Retailers will be very aggressive this year,” says Jeff Rosenblum, co-founder of digital agency Questus. “They are facing pressure to generate revenue to offset the decrease in traditional retail sales and maximize the performance of their digital storefronts. Shoppers can capitalize on this pressure by taking advantage of attractive discounts and promotions.”

      This could be one of the best years ever for Black Friday bargains.

      Make a List

      Man sitting at a desk writing in a notebook.

      Retailers have always offered doorbuster deals that were too good to turn down to get people in stores with the plan that people make impulse buys while there.

      “By shopping online, it helps cut down on those last-minute impulse purchases,” Vincent says. “We suggest you do your research ahead of time by viewing the Black Friday ads in advance and creating a shopping list. By having a well-researched shopping list, you’ll feel better about sticking to it instead of being tempted by a different deal that you might see online.”

      Determine if the Price Is Right

      Just because something says “Black Friday deal” or “Cyber Monday sale” doesn’t mean its price has been significantly slashed. It’s up to you to do some detective work to determine if you’re actually getting a good deal.

      “There is a two-step process that consumers should follow to ensure they are getting the best deals,” Vincent says. “First, on EarlyBlackFriday.com, each retailer’s Black Friday ad is leaked weeks in advance. Take your shopping list and visit the retailer’s website that day to see what the current price of the item is. This will give you an indication of how hot a Black Friday deal is. For example, if the current price is only $10 more than the Black Friday price, the deal might not be that great. Finally, compare prices with other retailers, starting with Amazon.com. If Amazon’s price is significantly higher than the price being offered during Black Friday, you know it’s a great deal.”

      Learn Where to Shop — and When

      “Take advantage of key retail holidays like Cash Back Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Prime Day, and Free Shipping Day,” Skirboll says. “You can score deep discounts on everything from apparel and electronics to beauty, toys, home goods, and more. Shopping on these occasions will help stretch your dollars further. Scour the internet for what’s on your shopping list as some retailers might offer it at a better price or have better offers. Don’t assume you’re getting the best deals until you have searched for coupons and cash-back offers. Do your research and price compare.”

      Take a two-step approach by searching for a sale or coupon code and combine that with a cash-back offer to stack your savings.

      Often, the bigger the retailer, the better the deal. “Traditionally Target, Walmart, and Best Buy have been the best places to find deals during Black Friday, and we expect that trend to continue this year,” Vincent says.

      Even DreamHost will have a Black Friday sale.[a]

      Go Big This Black Friday Weekend

      Our automatic updates and strong security defenses take server management off your hands so you can focus on generating sales.

      Search Online to Your Advantage

      Hands holding a smartphone while shopping online.

      Getting a pop-up ad online for something you just searched for can be annoying, not to mention a little creepy. But that can actually be connected to you landing the best price.

      “There is great value to be garnered by letting brands know you are in the market for a specific product,” Rosenblum says. “When shoppers go on search and social media for specific products, their data is shared with retailers who will then target shoppers with advertisements and promotions. While most of the press and conversation we hear is about data privacy, it’s important to note that data can be a valuable tool. When shoppers search for products, the data signals are analogous to walking into a retail store and asking a salesperson for assistance finding specific products.”

      Practice Online Safety

      Technology can work for and against you. “Beware of email phishing,” cautions Skirboll. “It’s best not to click on links from senders you don’t recognize. Be sure to hover your mouse over links without clicking to see if the address is really taking you to where it says it will. Before sending any personal information over the internet, make sure the website has ‘https://’ at the beginning of its web address. The ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS indicates that the website is secure and your information is encrypted, which makes it safe to enter a credit card number or other personal information.”

      While it’s fine to look up reviews or compare prices using public Wi-Fi, avoid logging on to any sites with sensitive personal information, warns Skirboll. Public Wi-Fi is often vulnerable to people who are looking to steal your info. To ensure your computer and personal information are safe, use anti-virus software on your computer or mobile device, and keep it up to date.

      One last tip: Always buy with a credit card when you can.

      “A credit card provides additional protections over a debit card in case of fraudulent transactions,” Skirboll says. “If your card number is compromised, it’s easier to dispute any charges that you didn’t approve. Using a card also decreases the transference of germs compared to shopping with cash.”

      Be Social Media Savvy

      If you don’t already follow your favorite brands on social media, now is the time to do so, and sign up for their email newsletters as well. They sometimes will post special sales and offers exclusively for their followers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

      “Shoppers should monitor Twitter and Facebook feeds from major retailers to look for announcements on when the Black Friday deals are live,” Vincent says. “However, their announcements are sometimes hours after the sales have gone live and the most popular items have sold out. We suggest that you also follow earlyblackfriday.com on Twitter (@EarlyBF) and Facebook. We monitor each retailer’s website in real-time to look for when the deals are live and we will be announcing these sales on our social media feeds.”

      And don’t forget to use apps to your advantage. “Be resourceful—check apps like RetailMeNot to find the latest sales, deals, and cash back offers from thousands of retailers,” Skirboll says.

      Put Your Health First

      Black Friday was built on doorbusters and fleeting in-person deals. But to make adjustments during the COVID-19 era, you can get the same bargains without having to leave your house.

      “There is no reason to visit the physical stores on Black Friday this year,” Vincent says. “While the in-store shopping experience will be made as safe as possible, all of the same deals will be available online, so we do not feel that it’s worth the potential health risk to visit the stores. If customers do end up going to the stores on Black Friday, they can be comforted by the fact that retailers will be making social distancing and mask-wearing mandatory in all stores. Extra staff will be wiping down high-touch surfaces to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Wearing a mask, practicing social distancing while shopping, and using hand sanitizer once you are done shopping are the best practices you will want to follow.”

      If you’re nervous about shopping in-store this year, you’re not alone.

      “Most Americans have concerns when it comes to holiday shopping this year during COVID-19,” Skirboll says. “Nearly nine in 10 (87%) are concerned about COVID-19 when thinking about holiday season shopping. Among those concerned, top concerns include other shoppers not following CDC guidelines (57%), being around other shoppers (57%), being around crowds during Black Friday shopping (54%), waiting in long lines due to reduced store capacity (50%), or shopping in stores with others (47%).”

      For those reasons, Skirboll says 75% of shoppers will prefer online shopping for holidays, and 18% plan to complete holiday shopping online only. A whopping 88% of consumers say they will not shop the traditional in-store doorbuster deals this year, and Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping will occur mostly online as more retailers choose to close on Thanksgiving.

      “In-store will continue to have an important role,” Rosenblum says. “A lot of people have quarantine fatigue and are excited to get back to stores, and there are some categories where it’s really important to touch and feel products.”

      Those who still feel the need to shop in person: Ensure retailers take health and safety precautions seriously. Before going to the store, Vincent advises visiting the retailer’s website, going to the store locator page, and selecting their local store location. There should be information on that page that lists the steps the retailer is taking to make their stores safe to shop in.

      Next, when you visit the store, look for signage at the entrance that indicates that social distancing and mask-wearing are mandatory. If you don’t see those signs and there are customers without masks, avoid the store. Any time you see unsafe practices, the best thing to do is simply leave and stick to stores that respect their customers’ health.

      Support Small Businesses 

      Mom-and-pop shops have been hit especially hard this year, with many of them forced to permanently shutter their doors. That’s why it’s crucial to support small businesses as much as you can during the holiday season.

      “Small businesses have to follow the same restrictions as larger retailers, which limit the amount of shoppers they can have in the store at once,” Vincent says. “To safely support your local small business, see if they have a website where you can place an order online or by phone. This will help them limit their in-store traffic so that other shoppers can shop in their stores. Finally, do not expect small businesses to match the extremely low prices you will find at a major online retailer. However, even if you have to pay a little more, it’s good to know that a local small business is benefiting from your sale.”

      You’re Cordially Invited

      Join DreamHost’s Facebook group to connect with like-minded website owners and get advice from peers and experts alike!

      Are You Ready for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals?

      While 2020 may have been a dumpster fire wrapped in a trainwreck, Cyber Week should deliver some solid discounts (along with much needed holiday cheer).

      Whether you decide to shop sales in-person or stick to online-only deals, taking the time to budget, create a wish list, and price check before you shop can help you get the most bang for your buck this holiday season. And no matter the time of year, it’s always important to practice online safety.

      So tell us: Do you have any holiday sales hacks? Follow DreamHost on Twitter or Facebook and share your best tips for saving big on Thanksgiving weekend.

      Above all, have fun, stay safe, and happy shopping!





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      How to Make the Most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday’s Tech Deals


      Thanksgiving weekend means quality time, stuffing, pie, and, of course, some of the best shopping deals of the year.

      After the leftovers are put away, it’s time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Whether you’re looking to simply cross a few gifts off your list or spend big bucks on a new TV or computer, it’s a good idea to do a little pre-gaming.

      So whip out that wallet, power up your laptop, and follow these 12 strategies to score the best deals.

      Before You Carve the Turkey

      Do Your Homework

      While Cyber Monday used to just take place on — you guessed it — Monday, it has become so popular that many retailers stretch it out for as long as a week. Some sites have different deals every day (even by the hour!). That’s why it’s crucial to come up with a game plan before you load up your browser tabs with your favorite e-tailers.

      While many shops keep sale details under wraps until the big day, often a little digging online will bring up leaked ads or specific roundups on shopping sites so do your homework.

      If you haven’t started browsing yet, you might be behind — according to the National Retail Federation, more than half of holiday shoppers begin planning their gift list in October or earlier.

      Know if the Price Is Right

      Some “price drops” on Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t actually deals at all. It’s common for stores to raise their prices just before the big days just so that they can “slash” them. That’s why it’s important to know the going price of the items on your list before the holiday shopping frenzy rolls around.

      To start tracking prices, you can’t go wrong with a classic spreadsheet. There are free sites that help you do the work too, such as Finery and Shoptagr, which will alert you when an item you’re watching goes on sale. There’s even a price tracker devoted just to Amazon: camelcamelcamel.

      Similarly, try to do some comparison shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday to ensure that you really are getting the lowest price. The Google Shopping app is an easy way to measure prices and inventory.

      Connect With Brands

      Many brands have their own newsletters (by the way, do you want to sign up for DreamHost’s?) and now’s the best time to add your email address to the list. They’ll often share special deals ahead of time, exclusive offers, and codes for bargains like free shipping. And if you’re really into snooping out savings, follow your favorite brands on Twitter or Facebook.

      Make a List

      It’s too easy to get carried away when you’re snagging great deals that are only available for a limited time. To avoid falling into the “sale trap” — and the buyer’s remorse that comes along with it — create a list of the gifts and items you actually need. While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to also write down how much you expect to spend for each item or person, since going into debt for gifts doesn’t put anyone in the holiday spirit.

      Use Bookmarks

      Often there is only a limited amount of products available for rock-bottom deals on Cyber Monday, so to make sure you’re first in that virtual line, bookmark the pages with the deals you’re interested in so that you click on them the second the sale starts and reach the page instantly. Even a few seconds can give you an advantage when millions of people are shopping.

      On Black Friday and Cyber Monday

      Hit the Sales Early

      We’ve all seen those viral videos of people lining up at big box stores before dawn. While you don’t necessarily have to wake up before the roosters, it’s a good idea to get there early. To make sure you don’t miss a deal online, set calendar reminders for time-sensitive deals, especially for products that will be low in inventory.

      Go in Person

      It might seem like Cyber Monday has the upper hand over Black Friday, particularly when it comes to electronics and tech, but that isn’t always the case. Many stores offer in-store exclusives so you’ll have to show up in person to get the prices that aren’t always matched online. Another bonus of dropping by a brick and mortar store? Many have surprise deals that aren’t advertised anywhere else.

      Read the Fine Print

      If a deal is a limited-time offer or you’re afraid your cart will be emptied out before you have time to check out, it’s easy to get a little trigger happy. And impulse buys are a lot more tempting when less dough is at stake. But when discounts are deeper than usual, that sometimes means that the usual customer service rules don’t apply. Be sure to find out return policies before you commit to a deal. After all, if you get stuck with something you can’t return, it won’t be a deal in the end.

      Stay on the Safe Side

      If a deal on a site you’ve never heard of is too good to be true, there’s a chance it really is. Around the holidays, phishing emails and scams become even more common. If a deal in an email looks suspicious, instead of clicking on the links in the email, go directly to the website offering the sale. Big name stores and brands are your best bet when it comes to online safety.

      While You’re Checking Out

      Have Everything Ready to Go

      When deals are hot, e-tailers will commonly give you a countdown for how long you can keep something in your cart. Or it may sell out before you even have time to whip out that credit card. To prevent that, have your card ready by your side, and even better, create a profile on the site before Black Friday and Cyber Monday to speed up the checkout process. If you have discount codes, make sure those are ready too so that you can quickly type them in without having to scan your email or scour the internet for coupon codes.

      Give your website a home for the holidays. Sign up for DreamHost today!

      Don’t Forget About Shipping Fees

      That flat screen TV online is an amazing deal — until you’re checking out and see the insane shipping fee. Few things are more disappointing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday than to find out that the shipping costs more than the item itself, which can be the case when it comes to larger items.

      And remember: just because you can buy something online doesn’t mean that it will be shipped to you instantly. Items often sell out quickly, meaning that it could take weeks to get restocked. Before you buy, look at the shipping dates to ensure it’ll arrive before the holiday.

      Save Receipts

      Even if you’re shopping in person, not every store will give you a print receipt. Decide in advance how you want to track your spending and keep a record. Whether you opt for old-school receipts or an email version, store them all in one place, particularly for high-ticket purchases, in case you need to make a return or exchange. If you decide on email confirmations, have them all sent to the same email address and create a folder to stash them together. Not having to scroll through all your emails will save you major time later.





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