Leona O'Neill

Leona O'Neill has been a journalist in Northern Ireland for over 20 years working with, among others, the Belfast Telegraph, Sunday Life, Daily Mirror and the Irish News. She is also a news reporter on Q Radio, a weekly columnist with the Irish News and a commentator for the BBC. She is a mother of four children - two of them teenagers - and as such is also a full-time professional worrier.

Black Friday’s online cousin Cyber Monday is coming – be ready!

Since we’re going all American with our baby showers and our calling school formals ‘proms’, we may as well embrace their shopping traditions as well.

In recent years Black Friday sales have been all the rage in the UK. In America, Black Friday happens the day after the Thanksgiving holiday – a family holiday that rivals Christmas with regards the consumption of turkey, wine and all the trimmings.

Black Friday dates back to the early 1950s when shops would kick off their Christmas shopping seasons with big sales. They would be so big that the annual store profits would tip them back into the black, hence the term Black Friday.

So Black Friday is the day for bargain hunting in shops and stores across America. Family’s often make a day of it. We have adopted the same tradition here, well minus the turkey, the eating, drinking and being merry of Thanksgiving.

Cyber Monday

A more modern twist to this tradition is Cyber Monday, another day of crazy sales to bookend the holiday weekend, except this one is all online. Cyber Monday is also now ‘a thing’ in the UK.

This tradition dates back just to 2005 when online stores started to offer items for sale via the internet. It’s is funny to think how far along that particular road we have come.

Back then it was unnatural and unheard of to order anything online. Many shoppers still needed a lot of encouragement to hand over their trust and their cash. Way back when, the internet was called Cyberspace – hence the term Cyber Monday, which has stuck.

The big online shopping day was on a Monday because most people shopped while they were at work where they had access to fast computers and high-speed connections as opposed to their slow, dial-up modems at home.

Online shopping has been blamed for the death of the high street. But it’s not altogether right to blame consumers for the downfall. In reality consumers just want the quickest, easiest, most convenient way to purchase their items. Some people love standing in line with hundreds of others to get a bargain, others prefer to sit in the comfort of their own homes and shop in their pyjamas. Each to their own. I know which one I prefer.

This year’s Cyber Monday falls on Monday November 26th. Be ready.

The beauty about online shopping, particularly in the frenzied atmosphere of a sale, is that you can easily price check your desired item to ensure you are really getting a bargain. Look the product up on Amazon if you’re not sure and check the pricing history. Nobody wants to discover their prized bargain was actually £200 cheaper two months ago.

You need to be quick off the draw. Just because there are no physical lines of people to make your way through, it doesn’t mean that you can relax and the bargains will all still be there when you log in. The very best of bargains will disappear quickly so you need to be ready and prepared to click.

Keep a close eye on deals

Some retailers, such as Amazon, do leak Cyber Monday deals and adverts in advance. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears to the ground and get ahead of the competition.

Follow companies online to get sneak peeks of their Cyber Monday deals. Retailers like to drip feed offers online in the run up to the the big day. Make sure you are tuned in.

Remain focused and create a wishlist. The Cyber Monday discounts can be amazing but have in mind exactly what you’re looking for before you are dazzled by bargains. It is easily done. Things like TVs, health tracker devices, drones, phones and home cinema systems tend to get some really great discounts. Figure out what you really need and stick to that wishlist like glue.

All the big players – Amazon, Currys, Argos, John Lewis and eBay – are all planning Cyber Monday sales, which is a good thing for us digital savvy shoppers. The competition between them will drive down prices and make sure we get a good deal.

Don’t get caught up in the hype. Retailers will play on your FOMO – fear of missing out. Cyber Monday is a good chance to grab a few bargains before Christmas. But if you don’t need it, don’t buy it. Make sure you do your homework and make Cyber Monday work for you.

Get yourself a comfy seat and a constant supply of tea. Bargain hunting is not easy work. Be sure to look out for lightning deals, that appear and disappear as quickly as their name suggests. Cyber Monday does not abide by time restraints. You’ll find that the HD TV you’re after will go on sale in the early hours, but that perfume you want will only reduce in price after 3pm. It’s a matter of sitting, watching and waiting, ready to pounce when the bargain appears.

Happy Cyber Mondaying everyone!