The holiday shopping season kicked off with Black Friday's traditional door buster deals. As expected, malls were chaotic and dedicated shoppers were lined up as early as 2:00 a.m. to take advantage of the big sales. Today is considered Cyber Monday, the beginning of the online holiday shopping season. The poor economy is likely casting a grinchy spell on the holiday shopping season. Consumers' biggest concern this year is price, and retailers are competing to offer the best deals. So if you are looking to put a dent in your holiday shopping list, this is a good day to do it. Cyber Monday used to be about convenience; avoiding the long lines and packed malls. But now it's also about the great deals. According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 84 percent of retailers will have special promotions on Cyber Monday. Cybermonday.com, part of Shop.org, is offering deep discounts from more than 550 online stores, partial day sales, and featured "Deal of the Hour" items. But before you buy gifts at major retail store sites, check sites like Overstock.com, Amazon, Buy.com, and Bizrate. You may be able to find the same item for less. Some retailers will coax you into spending more for free shipping, but weigh out your options. If the package is especially heavy or you are shipping far away, a flat rate could be to your advantage. Depending on the size, free gift wrapping may help you save too! Along with great deals, Cyber Monday also brings the risk of identity theft, so take extra precaution. Consider buying a disposable credit card. Visa and Mastercard offer them and they work just like a gift card. A thief can only take the amount on the card. Also be sure to shop on secure sites. Look for the little lock icon in the bottom right hand corner of your screen. And if you are still not sure, check with the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org. Cyber Monday got its name when people only had internet access at work. To avoid the Black Friday chaos, they would dedicate office work the following Monday to shopping online.
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