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Cyber Monday deals 2020: what to expect from the year's other big sale

Cyber Monday deals
(Image credit: spukkato/Getty images)

As summer starts to fade, our attention turns towards our favorite time of year and the packed shopping season's Cyber Monday deals event in late November. In the US, Cyber Monday sales have often seen more online purchases than the Black Friday deals a few days before, so ignore it at your peril - it's the real deal. It hasn't quite reached the same levels in the UK, but we're expecting big things in 2020.

You'll have plenty of chances to save big on everything from gaming laptops and console bundles to high-end headphones and essential accessories. It's an amazing opportunity to get a truly fantastic TV deal too if you're in the market for one. 

While that famous Friday might hog the headlines but sometimes Cyber Monday actually has the better bargains. What is it, where did it come from and why should you care? Let’s find out. But if you're after something a bit sooner, you might want to check out the latest information on the upcoming Amazon Prime Day deals event.

When is Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday 2020 is on November 30 this year. Coming in just days after Black Friday this is often the last chance on some deals that have stayed active over the weekend. We see an awful lot of prices shoot back up on the Tuesday that's for sure, although some do stick around for what's become known as Cyber Week. 

(Image credit: Nintendo)

What is Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday is the Monday after the US Thanksgiving holiday. It was invented as a way to encourage more people to shop online, and because it’s three days after Black Friday it has become part of the annual sales extravaganza. Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals may start several days before those days and continue for several days afterwards in 'Cyber Week'.

Where did Cyber Monday come from?

Cyber Monday was invented in 2005 by Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation. The name was chosen over Black Monday and Blue Monday: the black was a reference to Black Friday and the blue to the colour of hyperlinks rather than New Order’s classic song.

Davis invented Cyber Monday because every year, retailers saw a spike in sales on the first Monday after Thanksgiving and they wanted to make that spike even bigger. 

The National Retail Federation did some research into the spike. It found that many Americans were starting their Christmas shopping on the first working day after Thanksgiving. 

Why shop from work? There were two reasons. One, it means the kids can’t look over your shoulder and spoil Santa’s surprise. And two, it was 2005 and Americans’ home internet connections were often crap: more than half of Americans with internet access were still on dial-up. So Cyber Monday was designed to encourage the Americans who weren’t already browsing online shops at work to do their festive shopping on company time.

But Cyber Monday wasn’t and isn’t just an American thing. The UK may not do thanksgiving, but it definitely does shopping. By 2009, The Guardian reported that Cyber Monday was the busiest day of the year for online retailers. It’s been a big day on both sides of the ocean every year since.

(Image credit: Future)

Are Cyber Monday deals as good as Black Friday’s?

They can be, yes, because many retailers prefer not to post all their best deals on Black Friday. The big names tend to offer different deals on different days including Cyber Monday. That means savvy shoppers should keep an eye out for new deals every day during the Cyber Monday deals weekend.

Will Coronavirus affect Cyber Monday?

Yes, but mainly in the high street: until a vaccine exists, retailers won’t be able to cram their stores with bargain-crazed shoppers. That might mean increased online demand instead, so you might find yourself stuck in more virtual queues.

There has been some speculation that after months of discounting to try and stay in business, many retailers won’t be able to offer the kind of jaw-dropping deals we associate with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We’re not convinced: after all, during lockdown Amazon was selling almost $11,000 per second. We think it can afford to whack a few bucks off some laptops.

What stores will have the best Cyber Monday deals?

Last year we found some of the best Cyber Monday deals for gaming on Amazon (which heavily discounts its own devices on Cyber Monday too), John Lewis, AO.com, Currys.co.uk, Very.co.uk, Game.co.uk, LaptopsDirect.co.uk, Argos.co.uk and Bose.co.uk. There were also Cyber Monday discounts and deals on digital services such as the Microsoft Store. In the US, Amazon dominated online sales by a huge margin and we wouldn't expect that to change much. Of all the retailers, we expect Walmart and Best Buy to offer counter with some of the best deals around too.

(Image credit: Microsoft, Sony)

When do the Cyber Monday sales end?

Some retailers limit their Cyber Monday deals to Cyber Monday itself, but many keep the deals online for the whole week.

Is Cyber Monday good for gamers?

Yes. If you know what you’re looking for you can get good deals on all kinds of gaming-related hardware, on games and on accessories.

What sort of Cyber Monday deals can I expect?

Our picks from last year’s Cyber Monday / Cyber Week deals included all kinds of goodies. For example, Argos had £94 off a Nintendo Switch bundle, Very.co.uk dropped £150 off the Xbox One X 1TB, there was 20% of subscriptions to your favourite gaming magazines and you could get £15 off Switch games. You could also get Anthem on PS4 or Xbox One for £4.97, although given the reviews it’s debatable whether that one counts as a bargain.

In the US, Walmart took $100 off the PS4 Pro and Xbox One S, Best Buy slashed $61 off the Switch and you could get $20 off a DualShock.  Many laptop prices were slashed for Cyber Monday last year. There was $400 off the ASUS ROG Strix and a whopping $800 off the ROG Zephyrus S GX701; in the UK another ROG laptop, the Zephyrus G GA502DU, was £270 off at Amazon. You could even get discounts on Macs: John Lewis chopped £150 off the MacBook Air in the UK and in the US, B&H took $400 off the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

There were good deals on prepaid vouchers and subscription services on both sides of the Atlantic, with lots of sites offering heavily discounted PS Plus membership cards and Microsoft offering three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for $1 instead of the usual $45. And we found plenty of good deals on accessories that aren’t specifically for gaming but that are likely to interest gamers, such as smart speakers, huge TVs, and high-end headphones.

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(Image credit: Dell)

Are Cyber Monday deals real?

Yes and no. Many Cyber Monday deals are completely legitimate. But retailers do have ways of making deals look better than they actually are.

Some Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are like supermarket promotions, where the price goes up in advance of the event so the supermarket can bring the price back down and stick a “reduced!” sticker on it. And some are like sofa sales, where no sensible person has ever paid the pre-sale price. With the exception of Apple hardware, recommended/suggested retail prices usually bear very little relation to the street price and you shouldn’t evaluate deals based on the RRP or SRP. 

We’d recommend using a price checker site such as PriceGrabber or Shopzilla (US) or PriceSpy (UK) to see what other retailers are listing the item for: that TV supposedly reduced from £1,700 to £1,200 could well be on sale everywhere else for £1,250. You’re still getting a discount, but it’s £50 rather than £500.

For Amazon deals, CamelCamelCamel.com is a brilliant tool because it enables you to see a product’s price history: just paste the Amazon page address or enter the product name.

Here’s an example of how that works. We’ve just seen a great deal on a gaming laptop: the RRP is £999, but today it’s on sale for £749. Brilliant! Except CamelCamelCamel shows us that the laptop has never been on sale at £999. In fact, for nearly half of the last four months, it’s been on sale at £699. Some bargain.

How do I get the best deals on Cyber Monday?

Start here: every year we stock up on pizza and energy drinks to bring you all the Cyber Monday deals that matter. But before Cyber Monday it’s a good idea to have a think about what you actually want or need, how much you’re willing to spend and how flexible you’re willing to be.

Take gaming laptops, for example. Rather than pin your hopes on a very specific model being discounted on Cyber Monday, think about specifications instead. Are you willing to consider a similar spec from a different manufacturer? Would you be okay with a little less RAM, or a slightly smaller SSD?

Think about how you’ll pay for it too. Many credit cards and finance deals have sky-high interest rates, so if you don’t pay off your purchase immediately the interest may wipe out the actual savings.

And at the risk of sounding like our own parents here, make sure you don’t get carried away in all the excitement and end up buying things you don’t actually need. In recent years we’ve bought supposed bargains that we barely used. In some cases, they were still in the shrink-wrap when we put them up on eBay for a lot less than we paid for them.

Is Cyber Monday bigger in the US than in the UK?

In purely dollar terms, yes: according to CBS, US consumers spent $9.4 billion (about £7.1 billion) on Cyber Monday 2019. But Britain spends more per person. While UK figures tended to lump Black Friday and Cyber Monday together, Retail Gazette broke out the figures for Cyber Monday and predicted sales of £2.5 billion. As the UK’s population is roughly 1/5th of the US, that means UK consumers actually spent more.

Stay tuned to GamesRadar for all the latest on Cyber Monday as we'll be adding the deals to this page once they start coming in along with any tasty news and rumors in the run-up the to Cyber Monday deals 2020 event.