Retailers are battling the dismal economy with wicked Cyber Monday sales. So if you sat out Black Friday—or even if you didn't—here's your guide to today's best deals:
Focus on the high end. Nordstrom now offers free shipping on orders over $100 instead of $200, and Saks Fifth Avenue has been offering up to 40 percent off on items. So don't necessarily count out stores that are usually beyond your price range.
Look for online exclusives. Select items at BestBuy.com and Walmart.com will be marked down more online than they are in the stores.
Always look for free shipping. More retailers are throwing free shipping into the mix, and shoppers should take extra steps to make sure they don't miss out on this perk, which can be worth over $20 on large orders. Before clicking "complete," type the retailer's name and the phrase "free shipping" into a Web search. Much of the time, the results will direct you to a coupon code providing free shipping.
Make the Web work for you. CyberMonday.com lists the latest deals, including free shipping at Nike, overstock.com, and Zappos. It also provides coupon codes. At RetailMeNot.com, shoppers can search for coupon codes and discounts at thousands of stores. Many of these tips are provided by fellow users. If you're willing to delay gratification for a bit, sign up to be notified when your favorite brands go on sale at ShopItToMe.com. You can specify your size and the type of clothes you tend to buy (dresses, exercise clothes, or accessories, for example) and then you'll get an E-mail when you can buy them at a discount. If you already have your eye on a product, use Pricegrabber.com to make sure you're buying it from the cheapest store. Whether you're looking for electronics, flowers, or clothes, you can find the store with the lowest price by checking this site first.
Don't forget stocking stuffers. CVS's website features a holiday center with gift suggestions and online-only deals that are available through December 6. ExtraCare cardholders can also earn extra rewards dollars when they buy online. Razors and gift sets--perfect for mom's and dad's stockings--are among the items marked down.
Be smart about your identity. In general, online shopping is as safe—or safer—than in-person shopping, especially if you stick to name-brand stores. But to go the extra mile, always make sure that the Web page asking for credit- card information begins with "https" instead of "http," and E-mail the company with questions if you're unsure. Most credit cards offer additional safety measures, such as 100 percent fraud protection. Just make sure to check your monthly statement when you get the bill and report any suspicious activity immediately.
Know when it's time to step away from the computer. Cyber Monday can wreak havoc on budgets, especially for anyone with a tendency toward shopping addiction, which afflicts about 5 percent of the population. To limit the damage, set yourself a dollar limit in advance, and share it with a friend who can help you stick to it.
Practice "price matching." Brad Wilson, editor of BradsDeals.com, says that retailers are so hungry for sales that they are more likely to match competitors's prices. That means you can hop onto a variety of websites, find the best deal, and then ask your favorite store—perhaps the place where you're also making other purchases—to match it.
Don't buy everything today. According to Dan de Grandpre, chief executive of Dealnews.com, many discounts will continue, and in some cases even get steeper, as December progresses. So, save some items on your list for later.