Holiday shopping madness continued through Monday online for Cyber Monday after a weekend of Black Friday deals in brick and mortar stores. But while virtually scouring the web for deals, shoppers should stay alert for hackers and scams while shopping online for bargains.
The National Retail Federation reported that a new record will be set for Cyber Monday 2012, with more shoppers than ever expected to make holiday purchases online. comScore reported Americans are expected to spend $1.5 billion in 2012, up 20 percent from last Cyber Monday.
And Black Friday fared just as well. According to the NRF, more than 35 million Americans visited stores and websites on Thursday during the Thanksgiving holiday, up from 29 million last year. Similarly, 247 million visited stores and websites on Black Friday, compared to 226 million last year. Total spending reached an estimated $59.1 billion, with shoppers on average spending $423 up from $398 last year.
“There’s no question that millions of people were drawn to retailers’ aggressive online promotions this weekend, making sure to research and compare prices days in advance to ensure they were getting the best deal they could,” BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow told the NRF. “However, with shopper traffic increasing at department, discount, and clothing stores over the weekend, it’s clear that consumers still recognize Black Friday as one of the biggest shopping days of the year, as they have for decades.”
But with so much anticipation for the biggest online shopping day of the year since it was created in 2005, shoppers must remain alert on Cyber Monday and protect themselves while scoring the best deals.
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Here are some tips for safe shopping and for scoring the best deals on Cyber Monday 2012 and some of the best deals out there from major retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Macy's and more.
1. Use Good Judgment
Be careful to choose which Web sites you shop from and stick to trustworthy major retailers that are reputable. If a Web site looks sketchy, or underdeveloped, or promising an absurd deal, it most likely is a phony. And most likely, major reputable retailers like Amazon, Walmart or Target are offering the same sale, if not a better deal.
2. Ensure Your Safety
While shopping, ensure the area is safe and conducted over a secure connection. It's better to shop privately at home where you know the connection is secure, rather than in a public place or at work where a third party can retrieve your personal information.
3. Watch Where You Step
Do not click on any links from e-mails or on social networking Web sites, especially if they offer a free gift card or electronic device, as they are more likely scams. If you cannot find the deal using a simple Google search, it's a fake.
4. Take Precautions
Before you even begin scouring the web for deals, ensure your computer software, browser and all essential security tools (spam filters, anti-virus, anti-spyware and a secure firewall) are in place and up-to-date.
5. Double Check Security Measures
When checking out an order from an online shopping Web site, always make sure the merchant has a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Web certificate. Look for the s in the hyperlink address for ensured security.
6. Return Policies
Beforehand, familiarize yourself with the Web site's return and exchange policies, if you think there is even a slight chance of returning an item. Also, check out the company's shipping offers, which might be complimentary as many Web sites are offering free shipping for the holidays.
7. Keep Receipts
Gone are the days of keeping old receipts in a shoebox to collect dust. Nowadays, you can file all of your receipts online easily, to ensure you get what you purchased for the correct price.
8. Use a Credit Card
The Better Business Bureau suggests that all online shoppers use a credit card rather than wire transfers or other means, as they can be tracked. Also, many credit cards have protection against fraud, which credit card users can benefit from.
Tips for Scoring the Best Deals
Before you shop on Cyber Monday, remember to do your homework because it will pay off with getting the best deals. Always check for coupons or special offer codes online, as many large retailers offer additional savings, sometimes involving the Web user to click around on the site. Also, you can run a search via Google with the retailer's name and the word coupons to find some unpublicized sales. Finally, check for free shipping as most stores offer free postage for online shoppers.
10 percent off Beats by Dr. Dre and Bose headphones, Kindle Fire marked down to $129 from $159, Canon Digital DSLR camera $699 marked down from $999, 60 percent off Panasonic VIERA 55-inch TV and more.
50 percent off brands like Sony, Samsung, Nintendo, Fisher-Price and LeapFrog and more
10 percent off all appliances
Thousands of deals with a free $25 savings code on purchases of $250 or more
$10 off purchases of $75 or more until Nov. 30 using coupon code XJW562A992, 15 percent off all purchases plus free shipping for purchases of $75 or more using code "cyber."
15 percent off sitewide using code "15thanks"
Free shipping with no minimum, site automatically applies code
$5 off $50+ coupon using code "KMARTS" until Nov. 30