Black Friday versus Cyber Monday really comes down to a sleeping bag in front of Target or sneaking clicks on company time. If it concerns an unheard of deal, shoppers will find a way to justify either. Sometimes both.
When Sarah Lee Marks' daughter turned 12, she started giving her mom a Hanukkah wish list. With eight days in Hanukkah translating to eight potential upsets, Marks set out to deliver on the list. To do so, she'd need to find the best deals in town.
She became a Black Friday shopper.
That was more than 10 years ago. Although her daughter's now in her 20s and the wish lists are behind them, Marks continues "getting up too early and standing in line way too long."
Once you go bargain, you can't go back. And, waiting the weekend just doesn't cut it for Marks.
"It's a Hail Mary shot," she says of Cyber Monday.
According to Georganne Kizer of consumer trend professional speaking duo Kizer & Bender, deciding between Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes down to expectations.
Shoppers who stay loyal to Black Friday tend to enjoy the thrill of pursuing the deal. For them, a bargain is top priority.
Cyber Monday shoppers, on the other hand, are looking to avoid the people, parking and panic associated with Black Friday. Convenience clearly reigns supreme for them. But there's one more benefit to shopping digital: discipline.
"Whatever they display in the stores," Kizer says, "they know can get you to buy more."
The concept of Black Friday, which Kizer says started in 1960s Philadelphia, has evolved over the years. The earliest sale used to start at 6 a.m. In recent years, Kmart started opening at midnight on Thanksgiving, a trend other retailers followed. This year, Wal-Mart and others threaten to leave dinner plates across the country untouched with an 8 p.m. opening. But Kmart again pushes the envelope further, with deals today, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Illinois-based Kizer & Bender has observed that the more organized retailers get, the less chaotic the Black Friday scene.
Some stores offer lounges for folks to recharge their batteries, literally and figuratively. Snacks and cartoons for kids are offered. Best Buy, she says, has been known to play movies on big screens outside for patient customers.
The accommodations could explain why Black Friday has marked the biggest shopping day of the year since 2005.
It's the battle of the early birds against the procrastinators. When it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it can be a battle of the sexes.
Nancy Price has set her alarm for 3 a.m. every Thanksgiving night for about 10 years now. The mother of two has dabbled with Cyber Monday but prefers Black Friday.
"I'm in retail, so I'm more of a people person," she says. "I like talking to people and asking questions (about products). You have to be more savvy when you're buying online."
Or you just have to be a man. The practice of quick, get it and go shopping can appeal more to male consumers, Kizer says.
It holds true in the Price home. "My husband is more into Cyber Monday," she says. "He says you can check more places. And, with gas prices the way they are ..."
She'll stick to Black Friday and its outstanding deals, which once provided a 90 percent discount at Sears. She bought three foam mattresses that year. But there's also the year she was too late on that Best Buy bargain.
"It was a PlayStation 3," she recalls.
As any Black Friday shopper will attest: You never forget the one that got away.
Contact Xazmin Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter @startswithanx.