America is back to work today, or is it shopping?
Deals abound for people who want to walk through a virtual mall on Cyber Monday, in search of holiday season gifts. Just don't forget about that important report your boss is interested in.
Electronic goods top the nation's wish list, says Louis Ramirez, senior features writer at dealnews.com, a bargain-focused website that tracks the shopping frenzy. But from clothing to vacation packages, many other items are available at enticing prices.
"There's definitely more deals this year than last year," Mr. Ramirez says. And for many items, the deals will continue past Monday as retailers try to make sure that their crucial season has big sales volume.
"Don't buy toys on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. They'll be a lot cheaper in the two weeks before Christmas," Mr. Ramirez says. The caveat to remember: If there's a particular must-have toy, you need to weigh the prospect that prices may fall against the risk that the toy may sell out.
For tablet computers, by contrast, he says some hot deals have already passed by. The chance to get Apple's older iPad tablet (version three) at lower prices has evaporated, so shoppers hankering for Apple's signature tablet are looking at starting prices of $499 (fourth-generation iPad without cellular access). Similarly, don't expect to find the Google Nexus 7 tablet in stock, in its 16-gigabyte version.
"For TV's, the availability is great," Ramirez says, with retailers moving quickly to match discounts by competitors.
Here are some of the places that may be worth checking out, plus some shopping tips to consider:
• Newegg is advertising "Shell Shocker" and "Eggxtra" deals on computer hardware. In one deal, customers may find that an Android smartphone from Samsung (the Galaxy S Blaze 4G) is "free," if they're ready to sign up for a monthly service plan with T-Mobile.
• Kohl's says deals will flow "all week long," and offers an extra 20 percent off all purchases through Tuesday. For people who want towels or twill pants rather than a tablet, that's pretty attractive. As with most retailers pushing for online revenue, free shipping is also included.
• Amazon is selling its Kindle Fire (a blend of tablet and e-reading device) for $129, down from $159. (Enter "firedeal" at checkout.)
• Airline and cruise ship websites are offering Cyber Monday bargains for those ready to commit some time, not just their money. American Airlines touts prices as low as $58, one way.
• Dell is among the vendors offering TVs at low prices, and reviewer CNET gives high ratings to the Samsung 51-inch and 60-inch plasma screens, and the Sharp 60-inch plasma screen. "You won't have any trouble finding rock-bottom prices on no-name TVs," CNET's David Katzmaier writes. But "Dell's site has a couple of very good prices on bigscreen TVs I can actually recommend."
Not all big retailers are going wild with their discounts. L.L. Bean offers 10 percent off through Tuesday.
When the right bargain does come along, shopping experts say it pays to pounce quickly, since items can sell out even when they don't have the brand names "Apple" or "Google" attached.
Sometimes, even being ready to pounce isn't good enough. "You have to have ridiculously fast fingers," to catch the "lightning" deals that Amazon offers, says Ramirez at dealnews.
Zappos appears to think this issue is worth touting as the slogan for its sale. "All the goodstuff's probably gone," the website says in large type, right next to its Cyber Monday banner and its "shop now" button. Maybe that's some reverse psychology – a pitch to people hoping to find the last bargain on some Ugg boots or Nike running shoes.
A few more tips from shopping experts:
1. Shop websites you know, to defend against the risk of cyberscams. Using a credit card allows you to dispute charges if you don't receive what you bought, the Better Business Bureau notes.
2. Remember your budget and your goals. Just because there's a great price on something doesn't mean you need it or can afford it.
3. Know for next year that cyberdeals can often start before Monday. Prices get deeply discounted at many retailers starting over the long Thanksgiving weekend.