If shopping online were a sport, getting the best deal possible from a retailer you trust would be like winning a gold medal. We know you’re already a savvy deal hunter, but it’s time to take your game to the next level. To get the best deal there are a lot of factors to consider: where you buy, what coupons you find, how much cash back you earn from Extrabux.com, how much you pay for shipping, and whether you pay sales tax all impact the final price you pay. But did you know that what day of the week you buy impacts the price too?
We had a hunch that online prices fluctuate in a predictable way throughout the week, but couldn’t find any studies or data to support our theory. So we decided to prove it on our own. We partnered with our friends at camelcamelcamel.com and analyzed the past two years of historical price data from thousands of online retailers and over 100,000 different products to determine for the first time the cheapest days of the week to shop online.
So when’s the best time to buy? Well, that depends on what you’re buying…
Computers & Electronics: Mondays
When it comes to buying computers, TVs, cameras, and video games online, you’ll get the lowest prices early in the week. The first chart below shows the average lowest price across all computers from thousands of online retailers by the day of the week:
We were fascinated by this data so we asked PCRush.com Online Marketing Manager Matt Khalili for his insight. He attributes changes in computer prices to the timing of manufacturer discounts. According to Khalili, “Computer and electronics manufacturers like Dell and Sony apply all their discounts and rebates on Monday and retailers pass these discounts to the consumer.” That would explain why computer prices are lowest on Mondays. Retailers can get computers from manufacturers for less in the beginning of the week, so in turn they sell them to consumers for less.
Computers aren’t the only category where we see this pricing trend. TV prices fluctuate similarly throughout the week, with the lowest prices on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. As you can see below, be careful not to buy a TV on a Friday – it will cost you!
But why do these prices start to rise as the week progresses? We thought there might be more to it than manufacturer discounts so we asked wwstereo.com Director of eCommerce Bill Hettinger to dig deeper. Hettinger tells us, “Not only do some manufacturers offer instant rebates to lower prices in the beginning of the week, retailers also have the greatest opportunity to attract buzz about their price drops and sales when the offers are first launched.” He added, “Mondays by far are bigger sales days than any other day,” so it makes sense that retailers offer their lowest prices on the day that the most consumers are shopping and sharing deals.
When we crunched the numbers for camera prices, we were surprised to see that unlike computer and TV prices, which rise steadily throughout the week, prices on cameras spike after Monday and pretty much stay there:
To help explain why camera prices fluctuate differently than computer or TV prices, we had a long conversation with Forrester Research analyst and leading ecommerce expert Sucharita Mulpuru. According to Mulpuru, because cameras are significantly less expensive items than computers or TVs and have a much faster upgrade cycle, many electronics retailers use them as promotional leaders to drive traffic on Mondays, when consumers are back in front of their computers from the weekend and most susceptible to online promotions.
As far as video games go, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays will yield the lowest prices:
As with computers and TVs, video game prices start to spike on Thursday and Friday, decline over the weekend, and hit a low on Monday. What causes this cycle? According to Mulpuru, it’s all about competition:
“Retailers recognize that early in the week is when there is the most competition to capture the attention of consumers, and this competition results in lower prices for consumers. Fridays tend to be light online shopping days, so there isn’t as much competition to attract consumers and as a result prices aren’t as low.”
On Saturdays and Sundays, when employees in charge of monitoring prices are home for the weekend, computer algorithms actually take over most pricing decisions. Many major online electronics retailers have their own pricing algorithms and these programs “compete” with each other for lower prices. If Retailer A lowers its price, Retailer B’s program will take note of the price drop and automatically lower its price just slightly below Retailer A’s price. For this reason, although prices are not as low as early in the week, computers and electronics are typically less expensive on Saturdays and Sundays than on Thursdays and Fridays.
Major Appliances: Sundays
Just as electronics are cheapest on Mondays when consumers are back in front of their computers and looking for deals, online prices on major appliances are lowest on weekends when home improvement projects are top of mind. To prove this relationship between price and demand, we compared the average price across all major appliances to the number of searches for major appliances on Google Shopping:
As you can see, the prices of major appliances are inversely proportional to how many consumers are searching for major appliances (pardon the technical language). In other words, as the number of shoppers increases, the average price decreases, and vice versa.
Based on the correlation we’ve found between price and the number of searches, Mulpuru suggests that because jewelry skews more female than the other product categories and women tend to shop online most in the middle of the week, jewelry prices are probably lowest when searches are highest.
Also, with jewelry there are far fewer manufacturer discounts and rebates coming out on Mondays, so you don’t see a price drop on Mondays as you do with computers and electronics. “Prices are more demand driven in a category like jewelry,” adds Mulpuru.
As for what causes book prices to be lowest on Saturdays, our guess is that people have more free time to read on Saturdays, which leads to more online shopping for new books. As we have seen, retailers are keen on offering their lowest prices on days when the most consumers are searching for their products.
What does this all mean for online shoppers? Buying on the right day of the week does matter and can make or break a great deal. Keep the above charts handy and check back here before your next online purchase to make sure you or your friends don’t mistakenly buy a TV on a Friday or a camera on a Tuesday—lower prices could be just a few days away.
Now that you know when to buy, visit Extrabux.com to find out where to buy. We make it easy to find the lowest price on any product from over 2,000 top online retailers.