This is Dr. Audrey Guskey, consumer trends expert, with Consumer $ense to give you the lowdown on all things holiday shopping, and specifically Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which are on November 29th and December 2nd, respectively.

The Christmas season is right around the corner! (And some would even say it’s been here for a while!) This year, the National Retail Federation is forecasting holiday sales to grow by about 4%, Deloitte is predicting sales to increase 4.5%, and my prediction is sales will increase a whopping 5%.  I don’t want to brag, but over the last 30 years that I have been predicting Christmas spending, and I have been right every year but one!

If the predictions are true, this would be a healthy increase since last year sales only increased by 2%.  The bottom line is, consumers will be spending about $730 Billion this holiday season. The U.S. economy has been growing and consumer spending has been strong.  This is great news for retailers because this is their make or break season as 60% of annual spending occurs during the last quarter of the year. According to Deloitte, the average household will be spending close to $1500 this Christmas.

Here are some of my go-to tips for Christmas shopping: 

1. Be like Santa, make your list and check it twice.  Know who you need to buy for and determine what you want to present them.  Then do your homework and scout out the place with the best deal.

2. Use discounted gift cards.  Go to to find the discounted cards, or be on the look out to see when retailers offer promotions with gift cards purchases.  I shop at Rite Aid and every week they offer Plenti points if you buy a certain gift card.  I have bought Uber gift cards for $50, but get $10 in Plenti points, which is like getting the gift card for $40.  But don’t wait until the last minute, the offers are usually weeks before Christmas.

3. Sign up for emails NOW to get alerts for the sales around the holidays.

4. Forget the stuff every once in a while– grab the experiences. Sometimes, it’s about DOING & not HAVING.

5. Know the return policies and keep those gift receipts.

6. Be a scrooge and shop late – yes, shop the day before Christmas.  Retailers are desperate to get rid of merchandise and so the sales will be there.  Also, stores actually won’t be as crowded.

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Now onto two of the biggest shopping days of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Before we can enjoy the Christmas deals, we get to enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner!  To many people, Thanksgiving means being with family, counting your blessings, and eating turkey.  The day after Thanksgiving means shopping until you drop! Black Friday falls on November 29th this year – which is REALLY LATE.  That means less days for consumers to shop and less days for retailers to make money.

But don’t get caught up in the hype.  Things get awfully crazy out there. If you MUST go on Black Friday, be like Santa and make your list and check it twice. Do your research. Have a game plan. 

Start your shopping trip early or late on Black Friday.  Some stores will be open on Thanksgiving, but if you are a traditionalist, like me, and believe Thanksgiving is for family, then stick to your principles and shop the next day. 

Forget the door busters.  Most of the major box chains will offer their in-store door busters online.  You can fight the crowds if you want to, but there’s a lot of shopping that can be done on your phone or computer.

Have a backup plan.  Be flexible and move quickly from store to store.

Shop with a friend.  It makes it twice as much fun.  Bring the kids – make it a family day!

Price check in the store.   Download apps or web Browser extensions such as CammelCammelCamml (for Amazon), invisible hand or retailmenotgenie to compare the best promo codes at checkout.

But Black Friday isn’t just Black Friday anymore. It has lost its sizzle. The sales will start weeks in advance – so stay alert to bargains at any time!

Final tip for Black Friday shopping – DON’T wear RED to Target – they will think you are working there! 😉

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Speaking of Black Friday losing its sizzle, has Cyber Monday stolen some of its thunder?

It has been a tight race over the past years – Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday.  But this year put your $$$ on Cyber Monday. Deloitte found that 53% of shoppers will shop on Cyber Monday discounts and 44% will snag the sales on Black Friday.  This is the 1st year that Cyber Monday has surpassed Black Friday!  Gen Z will be doing most of their shopping online on Cyber Monday followed by millennials, then Gen X with baby boomers and seniors trailing in online shopping.  Consumers just aren’t pumped about lining up outside a mall in the freezing cold the day after Thanksgiving anymore

And, of course, companies just LOVE Cyber Monday since many consumers shop online while at work 😉 

Both shopping days are really late this year, which is GREAT NEWS for consumers because retailers will be desperate to get us spending since we have fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Amazon Prime Day is always a big deal in July and this has contributed to consumers shopping earlier and online.  Consumers recognize the huge savings to be had online as well as the convenience, which is why everyone loves Cyber Monday! And can you say FREE SHIPPING?!

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Rumor has it that even Santa is doing most of his shopping online this year!


This is Dr. Audrey Guskey with Consumer $ense, where we make sense for you!

Dr. Audrey Guskey | Consumer Trends Expert