How to prepare for Cyber Monday

The early bird catches the worm...

Cyber monday shopping sale

This year, nearly a quarter of all UK consumers are expected to buy online on Cyber Monday, making it one of the year's big shopping days.

But while Black Friday has traditionally been a day for pounding the streets in search of a bargain, Cyber Monday is more of a high-tech affair.

Not only are the bargains skewed towards technology products, but they are mostly to be found online.

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But while you may not need such sharp elbows to snap up your choices, you'll still want to make sure you get your place in the queue.

We look at how you can prepare for the big day and make sure you don't miss out.

Set a budget
"You don't want to start January worrying about a massive credit card bill, so look at how much you can afford to spend on Christmas, set some aside for food and drink and decide a gift budget," says Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief of Money.co.uk.

"This is your limit – challenge yourself to stay within this. The ideal is having this cash spare now so you don't need to dip into your overdraft or spread the cost over the year (adding interest will mean Christmas costs you a lot more!)."

Cyber Monday 2016: When is it?

Check pre-sale prices
There's been a bit of a crackdown over the last few years on retailers misleading customers on the extent of discounts. The Government's Pricing Practices Guide (PPG) says that comparisons should generally be made with the price immediately before a sale - and a price that was held for at least 28 days.

However, this system doesn't always work as it should; and even where it does, it's often possible to find something from one retailer that's cheaper than the sale price elsewhere.

So, as Pete Moorey, head of campaigns at Which?, suggests: "Do your research as some 'deals' may not be all they're cracked up to be."

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Update your accounts
Make sure that your accounts with Amazon, eBay and other online retailers are up to date - you don't want to be having to fill in new credit details or update your address while your chosen products are flying from the virtual shelves.

Check the returns policy
Your online shopping rights were strengthened last year, and you now have a guaranteed 14 days to return non-faulty goods. However, if you're buying Christmas presents, this means that it'll be too late to return them on the big day.

Many retailers offer a longer window to return Black Friday or Cyber Monday purchases - check out their policies before you buy.

Fill your shopping cart now
If you know what you want, there's nothing to stop you loading up your online shopping cart in advance - maybe on several different retailers' websites. First, this means that you won't waste valuable time tracking down your items, and it'll be easy to compare the various prices. Buying will obviously be quicker too.

But there's also another reason for registering your interest by filling the shopping cart and then logging right out. There's a fair chance that your actions will trigger an email offering you free shipping, or even a further discount.

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Top ten facts about Black Friday

Top ten facts about Black Friday