It's online shopping time again.
"We're ready," says Mike Fletcher, who runs the Online Christian Shopper clothing and jewelry site. "We started seeing sales increase about the first of November but there's always this huge rush that occurs the Monday after Thanksgiving."
Online retailers call it "Cyber Monday."
According to Fletcher, most of the business comes in around 9 am on Cyber Monday, then again between noon and 1pm, with a slightly smaller spike after 7pm.
"The morning rush is when people first log on to their computers when they go to work," he said. "Then they shop during lunch, eating at their desks. And then a little bit after dinner at home. But most of the business comes in during the workday."
Why Monday? According to Fletcher, most shoppers are fed up with long lines and jammed parking lots at the mall. "Shopping with a mouse is a lot easier than dragging some exhausted kids through a crowded mall," he says.
The Online Christian Shopper site specializes in religious-themed clothing and jewelry. Big sellers that Fletcher notices this year are hoodies, or long-sleeved hooded sweatshirts. "They've become incredibly popular," he says. "Hoodies are warm enough to wear in place of a jacket in many places of the country and and because they're emblazoned with a meaningfulful statement to the wearer – in our case, religious – they become a personal fashion statement."
Here are Fletcher's top five tips for online shoppers:
1) Shop early – While the selection of goods is much better online, just like brick and mortar stores, some items sell out or are on backorder. The early bird gets the hoodie.
2) Allow time for delivery – While most online orders ship soon after they are ordered, delivery services and the postal carriers have a lot of packages to deliver during the holiday rush. Some orders take 7 to 10 days to arrive during this busy time of the year.
3) Look for free shipping. That's a big trend this year among online retailers. Online Christian Shopper, for example, offers free shipping on orders over $ 99. That's usually a significant savings.
4) Be sure of sizes. Most online stores offer sizing charts. You do not want to get an item only to find it does not fit and needs to be returned. So before clicking the order button, find out the size your giftee wears.
5) Look for bargain items. Many online retailers have ordered extra and specially priced items for the Christimas season. Spend some time looking around each categorty of the web store and you can usually find some really good bargains.
Those tips, Fletcher points out, can make your holiday shopping a breeze by guaranteeing that your gifts are received on time and are the right size and – best of all – saving you the hassle of standing in line at the mall.