What to Buy and Avoid on Cyber Monday

Buying clothing and large appliances on Cyber Monday is a wise decision. A digital camera? Not so much.

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Online shoppers are expected to spend $2.27 billion this Cyber Monday, up 15 percent from 2012, according to the Adobe Digital Index 2013 Online Shopping Forecast.

If you've decided to join in the Cyber Monday shopping spree, make sure you're buying items that really are at their lowest prices of the year. Many retailers will announce online-only deals right after Thanksgiving, and buying your holiday gifts or other items after Black Friday madness could help you stay within your budget this year.

However, there are some items that won't be deeply discounted on Cyber Monday, and you may have to wait a few weeks into the shopping season to get the lowest prices of the year.

Here are some tips on what to buy and avoid on Cyber Monday:

What to Buy

  • Clothing, accessories and shoes. If you have a list of favored brands and know the exact sizes you need, go ahead and make those purchases online so you can take advantage of free shipping and other incentives on Cyber Monday. You can skip the crowds from the weekend and still stock up on sweaters, hats, boots, outerwear and winter essentials for the lowest price of the season.
    • Large appliances. If you're in the market for a new dishwasher, washing machine or other large appliances, plan on scooping up some great deals during Cyber Monday sales. This is also a great time to take advantage of free shipping deals so you don't have to worry about carrying those heavier items home or paying for the cost of renting a truck. Keep an eye out for any rebate offers that can also help pare down the cost of those big-ticket items and save you a significant amount of money.
      • Home electronics. Black Friday weekend is a popular time of year for buying the latest gadgets and other tech items, but don't overlook Cyber Monday inventory for great deals on televisions, stereo systems and other home electronics. Some items may still be discounted after the Black Friday rush, which means you could get a great deal even if you missed doorbuster deals over Black Friday weekend.
        • Older versions of hot items. Whether it's an Apple computer or a smartphone, you may be able to get a great deal on older versions of the latest gadget and take advantage of free shipping and other special discount offers just for shopping over Cyber Monday.
        • What to Avoid

          • Digital cameras. New models of cameras are typically released in January, so you might not see a price drop on inventory available over Black Friday weekend and even on Cyber Monday. Unless you're buying a specific model through a flash sale or at a closeout price, hold off on that digital camera purchase until after New Year's to get the best deal. At that time, you might also be able to take advantage of manufacturer rebates and store promotions on newer models.
            • Facebook and Twitter promotions. Make a habit of visiting a retailer's website directly to find out what types of special offers or promotions may be available. Following a link from Facebook or Twitter might take you to a spoof site, and this isn't easy to recognize when you're shopping with a smartphone or other mobile device. Be a smart consumer, and head to the store's website to browse the sales or to place your order. Make sure you're completing that purchase on a secure site and over a secure Internet connection.
              • Add-on items and impulse buys. Many online retailers list add-on items and suggestions or recommendations to complement your purchase while you check out. Others may offer a special deal or discount another item you purchase before the checkout process is complete. Avoid loading up your shopping cart with items you never intended to buy and impulse buys that seem like a great deal. Buying these items just as you are checking out doesn't give you a chance to do any comparison shopping, and you may end up buying items of a poor quality – or items that you don't even want or need – as a result.
              • Sabah Karimi writes for the consumer blog Wise Bread, where you can find holiday shopping guides.