Hanging sale tags display text for “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.”

What Is the Difference Between Cyber Monday and Black Friday?

Updated Oct 31, 2023 - Cyber Monday and Black Friday are sales events held shortly before and after Thanksgiving. Retailers offer significant deals on many products. As such, these are popular days for shopping. While similar, there are minor differences between the events.

Cyber Monday and Black Friday are two very similar events — to the point of overlapping much of the time — within a short time period. Therefore, it may be easiest to imagine these holidays as one big weekend. Do not think about them as two separate events, just a larger time period when different savings can pop up — but also vanish. 

Some deals will appear on Black Friday and get gradually better as Cyber Monday approaches, while others will sell out as soon as they appear on Black Friday. Some retailers have extended the savings to a whole week — completely blurring the line between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Now, it is no longer about one day of savings when online shopping is the new norm, and we are bombarded with deals throughout the holiday season.

What Is Black Friday?

Black Friday is celebrated primarily in the United States and takes place on the Friday following Thanksgiving. Many retailers offer significant discounts on items on this day, and therefore Black Friday is a popular day for shopping. 

Origins of Retail’s Black Friday

The term Black Friday first appeared in the public lexicon about an event that has nothing to do with Thanksgiving or the following days. For over a century, Black Friday was a reference to the disastrous stock market collapse in 1869, with the word “black” building a negative or mournful connotation in this context. 

However, the term Black Friday, as we know it today, can be traced to the 1950s when frustrated police and business leaders continued to use the term in a negative light for the popular holiday shopping that took place after Thanksgiving. Historically, employees took the day after Thanksgiving off to extend their weekends. This would affect the productivity of most businesses, their bottom line, and as a result, the economy. Being a popular day to call out of work and to shop, the day often interfered with business and coincided with disruptive traffic.

However, in the 1980s, this term took on new meaning. Retailers found that the large number of shoppers on this day often took their annual revenue out of the “red” (indicating losses) and into the “black” (indicating profit). This prompted a rebrand for the term “Black Friday,” as well as a tradition of annual deals on this popular shopping day to further support profits. 

What To Buy on Black Friday

Some types of products offer better deals and opportunities than others when it comes to Black Friday shopping. These products include:

  • High-price electronics like gaming laptops, Macbooks, and tablets;

  • Small appliances like blenders and toasters;

  • Smart home technologies like home security gadgets and smart thermostats;

  • Gaming consoles like Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo;

  • Wearable devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers;

  • Home Goods like towels and decor

Meanwhile, you should be wary of “doorbuster” deals that often feature cheap materials or hidden fees.

What Is Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday takes place on the Monday following Thanksgiving. Many online retailers offer substantial discounts on a variety of items on this day, and therefore, it is a popular day for online shopping. 

Origins of Cyber Monday

Following a similar trend to Black Friday, online shopping became increasingly popular in the days following Thanksgiving as e-commerce became more common. In the 2000s, retailers began to notice that the Monday following Thanksgiving was particularly notable for online shopping traffic. As such, marketers built off of the idea of Black Friday and essentially extended the popular shopping weekend by popularizing Cyber Monday. 

What To Buy on Cyber Monday

Similar to Black Friday, you should be strategic about what products you buy on Cyber Monday. Products that are typically a good bet include:

Many of these are similar to products that are beneficial to buy on Black Friday. As such, do research beforehand to compare the deals available on each respective day to determine which offers better options