9 don't-miss tips for shopping Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales

charlie-graham-founder-shopittomeThis coming weekend is notoriously one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year. We asked our Founder/CEO, Charlie Graham for his advice/sale intel leading up to the big Black Friday/Cyber Monday mania. Here are his tips:

  1. People are always asking us if Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are the best of the year. Thanksgiving week sales are great because there’s so much merchandise on sale, which makes it an exciting time to shop. It’s a time when many retailers put their whole stores on sale online, and offer free shipping to boot.

  2. Although there’s a huge selection of merchandise on sale, you will actually not see the steepest discounts of the year (that’s generally in January/February and August/September).   For instance, during Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend last year, our 150+ retail partners offered sales on more than 56,000 items online. However, only 8,000 (or 15%) of those items were offered at deep discounts of 60% or more. This is less than some other holiday weekends where we have seen 15,000 items on sale for 60% or more.

  3. Use 40% off as your barometer of what’s a good deal. It’s the average discount on clothing, shoes and accessories on sale online in November and December.  Of course your own judgment:  If it’s a brand that’s rarely on sale, 20% or 30% off is significant.  But in general, 40% is a good barometer when shopping for clothing, shoes and accessories online.

  4. That said, there are some brands that you’ll want to scoop up, even if the discounts are less. For instance, the following brands had average discounts less than 30% during all of 2011. If you see any of these on sale for more than 30% off, you may want to act fast: Tod’s, Mountain Hardwear, Electric, Marmot, Prada, Ray-Ban, The Sak, Oakley, Christian Dior, Tumi, Vilbrequin, Ferragamo, Johnston & Murphy, Moncler, Patagonia, Reef, Fossil, Hurley.

  5. If you see a sale that gets you excited, pull the trigger.  This week, people may be afraid to pull the trigger when shopping online on Thanksgiving because they think they’ll see a better deal on Black Friday, and then Black Friday comes and they aren’t sure if a sale will be better on Cyber Monday.  In the past, we have found a mixture of offerings between the three days.  Some retailers offer the same sale for the whole weekend.  Others do different sales on each of the days.  In general, the discounts are fairly equal between each of the days, so if you see something on sale on Thursday or Friday, chances are you won’t see it discounted any further on Monday.  And even if you do, you can always return/exchange it.

  6. People also ask us if sales are better at brick & mortar stores or online. We can’t say for sure because we only track online sales–but what I can tell you is that when it comes to shopping online for clothing, shoes and accessories–the past two years during Thanksgiving weekend, the deals have been slightly better at online-only sites — think Zappos, Net-a-Porter, Shopbop, Piperlime, etc — followed by online department store sites and online specialty retailer sites.

  7. If you can, shop early in the mornings. You’ll have a better chance of getting the inventory you want.  Online retailers typically do their markdowns in the wee hours.

  8. A trend we saw last year and is already evident this year is toward sales that last the whole week, Thanksgiving Week sales.  These are already starting (the Tues or Wed before Thanksgiving), and will go through much of next week too.

  9. To monitor styles tailored to your individual preferences, I hope you’ll try our new site, Shop It To Me Threads.  We just launched in public beta last week, in time to help navigate the holiday shopping madness. Please share any feedback with me. It’s just the beginning and we are continuing to roll out new features/functionality as we make this the most personalized shopping platform available!For more tips, see our infographic on shopping smart this holiday season.