Cyber Monday 2012: After Black Friday, Turn to Web Shopping for Best Deals

Black Friday is already upon us — and no, I don't mean Rebecca Black's Friday. I mean the shopping frenzy which started in the early hours of the morning on Friday, and which is projected to draw in $11.4 billion in sales this year. But stores IRL may have to face a relatively recent threat to the hectic holiday consumption cycle: Cyber Monday.

What is Cyber Monday, you ask? Here's a handy infographic to explain. 

In 2011, online shoppers spent $1.25 billion on Cyber Monday, a 22% increase from 2010. According to Marketingcharts.com, "Cyber Monday’s sales growth ... was driven by an increase in both the number of buyers, which increased 11% from 9 to 10 million, and the average spending per buyer, which rose 9% from $114 to $125. According to comScore, the 10 million online spenders also represents the first time on record that threshold has been reached in a single day." 

For those looking to buy, apps and websites like DealNews, ShopSavvy and Priceblink will help you find the best deals on the internet. 

And for those feeling conflicted about supporting business like Walmart on Black Friday, surfing the web for deals may ease a guilty conscience, depending on which merchants you patronize. Obviously, buying something off of Amazon will not necessarily help small business, but buying something off Etsy might, particularly if you're ok with an aesthetic best described as "put a bird on it." (Plus, who doesn't love Sad Etsy Boyfriends?)

If you can't decide between deals (there's an app for that!), consider buying nothing. Buy Nothing Day, which was started in 1991 by artist Ted Dave of Adbusters, is a longer-running holiday tradition than Cyber Monday, based on the idea that the world needs a break from consumption. After over-consumption on Thanksgiving, this may be just the break you need, and it will certainly help your wallet in a distressed economy.

And if your fingers feel twitchy for one-click shopping, you can always donate what you buy to the cause of your choice.