Holiday shoppers need a road map to successfully elbow their way through a packed mall on Black Friday. Online gift buying should be simpler, right? It can be, with the right game plan.
Deciding what you want in advance and the best day to shop are key takeaways from an Adobe Inc. report about U.S. online shopping trends. The software maker measured trillions of retail website visits, transactions from 80 of the top 100 U.S. internet retailers and surveyed more than 1,000 consumers nationwide.
Here's a holiday guide to navigating the wide world of web shopping:
Spend, spend, spend. Shoppers are expected to dig deep into their wallets this holiday season and spend $124 billion online. That's 15 percent more than last year and up a hefty 77 percent from 2014, according to Adobe. The growth estimate comes amid gains in consumer confidence and household financial security. The five-day stretch from Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday alone will account for almost a fifth of holiday revenue. (Total sales, both online and in-store will climb to as high as $1.1 trillion, consulting firm Deloitte projected in September.)
Timing matters. Be strategic to get the best deals. Want that high-tech fridge you've been eyeing all year? Sunday, Nov. 25 is when you'll get the most bang for your buck on appliances, apparel and jewelry, according to the report. Cyber Monday, Nov. 26, is best for toys, where savings will average 19 percent. And as in past years, Black Friday, Nov. 23, is all about electronics, from uber-sized TVs to computers and tablets.
You snooze, you lose. Wait too long and you'll miss out. While Black Friday may see the best sales for TVs and electronics, many of those items will likely be sold out a day earlier, on Thanksgiving. "If you have a very specific model in mind, then you are absolutely best served to get that purchase prior to Thanksgiving," said Jason Woosley, Adobe's vice president of commerce, product and platform. If you have flexibility, you'll enjoy the deepest discounts by waiting until Black Friday, though you won't necessarily have the best selection, he said.
In fact, popular items in most other categories — including apparel, appliances, sporting goods and toys — are typically out of stock by the end of November, according to Adobe. The longest holdout is jewelry, which tends to be available until Christmas Eve. And an important note for parents: If you failed to purchase the year's must-have toys by Nov. 30, chances are you won't get them at all. Once sold out, those toys aren't typically restocked, Woosley said.
• One in 5 people shop online in the bathroom.
• Five percent shop online at ceremonies or events like weddings.
• Consumers spent 5.2 billion minutes shopping, the equivalent of 10,000 years, on Cyber Monday last year.