How to bag a REAL Black Friday bargain: As a Which? report warns tomorrow’s offers may not be what they seem, Femail proves a definitive guide on how to snap up the best deals
- The American post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas discount frenzy falls tomorrow
- Which? kept an eye on the prices of 83 products on sale on Black Friday last year
- Here Femail shows you how to keep your wits about you to pick your way through the maze…
For those who’ve somehow managed to miss the banners, adverts and all-round hullabaloo, Black Friday — the American post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas discount frenzy that’s been adopted by the British High Street — falls tomorrow.
But while once we saw it as a welcome import for getting early festive season deals, cynical marketing tricks and pseudo-bargains have made it even harder for consumers to work out whether these savings are genuine or just sneaky ways of getting us to part with our cash.
In fact, according to research revealed by consumer champion Which?, that tracked prices for 12 months, a worrying number of last year’s Black Friday ‘deals’ were actually cheaper, or available for the same price, if you’d not bought them on Black Friday.
For those who’ve somehow managed to miss the banners, adverts and all-round hullabaloo, Black Friday falls tomorrow
Which? kept an eye on the prices of 83 products on sale on Black Friday (November 23) last year, from six months before the retail bonanza until six months after.
It looked at deals on big ticket items from retailers, including Currys, PC World, Amazon and John Lewis, and found that only four of the products it researched were cheaper on Black Friday than at any other time in that 12-month period.
Many had been cheaper or the same price on at least one day in the previous six months, and three-quarters were cheaper or the same price at some point in the six months after Black Friday.
Richard Headland, editor-in-chief at Which?, says: ‘We’ve repeatedly shown that the majority of products available as Black Friday ‘deals’ are actually cheaper or the same price at other points in the year.’
Tempting looking discounts on the payday before Christmas are not to be sniffed at. But you need to keep your wits about you to pick your way through the maze and here’s how…
WATCH OUT FOR THE BIG GUNS JUMPING THE GUNS
This year, many stores, including John Lewis, Boots and Amazon, started running promotions before the big day itself, stretching from last Friday until next Monday, offering shoppers a full ten days to get their hands on cut-price merchandise.
As it happens, research from previous years suggests that many consumers wait until the day itself to be sure they are looking at the full range of options.
And, far from taking to the streets, most of them spend from the comfort of their homes.
Some retail giants steadfastly refuse to be drawn into the fray — Marks & Spencer, Selfridges, Ikea and Primark among them
In 2018, the UK’s online retail association estimated that a staggering £1.49 billion was spent on online deals in the UK on Black Friday, up 7.3 per cent on the previous year.
Some retail giants steadfastly refuse to be drawn into the fray — Marks & Spencer, Selfridges, Ikea and Primark among them.
But most retailers, from Argos and Superdrug to Monica Vinader and ASOS, are taking part again this year.
Even some that had dropped the practice have come back into the fold.
For three years, supermarket giant Asda did not take part in the promotion after images emerged in 2016 of shoppers fighting over cut-price televisions in its stores. But it has announced a string of discounts this year.
However, according to Which?’s research, when it comes to Black Friday, a deal is rarely all it seems.
While it stresses that none of the retailers taking part are doing anything illegal in the way they’re promoting Black Friday discounts, Which? urges shoppers to beware of being swept up by the marketing frenzy.
THE AMAZON EFFECT
Amazon is the retailer responsible for bringing us Black Friday in the first place, but according to Which? it is among the worst offender when it comes to deals that don’t quite live up to expectation.
Last year it proudly proclaimed that the Amazon Echo (2nd Gen) was on offer at £54.99, an impressive 39 per cent off. But Which? says it was actually cheaper than that on at least 13 occasions before Black Friday.
Amazon has since challenged the Which? research saying: ‘The claim from Which? with regard to Echo is false and we have made this clear in our response. Amazon customers were not able to buy the Echo (2nd gen) device cheaper before Black Friday 2018.’
Last year it proudly proclaimed that the Amazon Echo (2nd Gen) was on offer at £54.99, an impressive 39 per cent off
If you are thinking about making any purchases tomorrow, Mr Headland suggests visiting pricechecker website uk.camelcamelcamel.com first — you just paste in the link of the item that you’re looking at and it will tell you how the price has changed over time.
Take the Ring Video Doorbell that is retailing for £119 in Amazon’s Black Friday promotion that is currently running.
CamelCamelCamel shows that a little over a year ago you could have picked it up for £95.20 on the site. Amazon told Which?: ‘We seek to offer customers great value thanks to low prices all year round as well as a number of fantastic seasonal deals events.’
HOW TO FOIL THE BLACK FRIDAY SCAMMERS
So what are people looking for when it comes to Black Friday bargains?
According to research carried out by SEMrush, which collects data on internet searches, in October 2019, looking at all the searches in the UK that specified a product and the words ‘Black Friday’, the top ten most commonly searched products were Nintendo Switch, Airpods, PS4, Dyson, Xbox One X, Apple Watch, PS4 Pro, iPad, Xbox one, iPhone 11.
Olga Andrienko, head of global marketing at SEMrush, said: ‘While many are predicting that Black Friday may be slow this year, our information shows that searches [and, consequently, purchases] are likely to be up. It’s tech deals that prove most popular, as people aim for laptops, earbuds and games consoles at knockdown prices.’
With such big ticket items comes a danger of Black Friday scams, according to research from Barclays, which found victims lose an average of £661.
Ross Martin, Barclays head of digital safety, advises: ‘Make sure that you do your research and safety checks to stay ahead of scammers.’
Be wary of deals that look too good to be true and take your time over a purchase. Don’t enter your card details into a website if you don’t see the padlock sign that denotes a secure connection, and keep a close eye on your bank account to spot any fraudulent transactions quickly.
ARE THE BEST DEALS REALLY FOUND ONLINE?
‘We haven’t spotted any significant differences in discounting between the high street and online on Black Friday,’ stresses Which?’s Mr Headland. But, as he points out, an online purchase can offer better consumer protection.
Most High Street shops offer sales returns, but if you purchase online there’s a cooling-off period within which you can cancel your order. That starts the moment you place the order and ends 14 days from the day you receive your goods.
During that time, you can cancel your order if it hasn’t yet been shipped, or return it unopened (although you may be liable for the cost of returns).
Most High Street shops offer sales returns, but if you purchase online there’s a cooling-off period within which you can cancel your order
The Which? research shows you can never be sure if your purchase will be cheaper later on. But to get the best deal before Christmas, look for a retailer that will price-match.
A Currys spokesperson said: ‘We price-match all year and offer increased choice during Black Friday which is when we have the most deals on at once.’
John Lewis said: ‘Our commitment to being Never Knowingly Undersold means that we continuously monitor and match the prices of our high street competitors throughout the year.’
Other retailers offer a fixed percentage discount across everything in the store or on the website.
While there’s no guarantee these will be great deals, the chances are you’ll be able to get a discount on something you’ve had your eye on, rather than just whatever stock the retailer is trying to shift.
BUY ONE, GET ONE TREE!
If you are trying to curb your impulse shopping in order to be more eco‑aware, a raft of eco-conscious retailers are determined to turn Black Friday green this year with feel-good incentives.
Jewellery brand Missoma, has a Black Friday sale in partnership with Tree Sisters, a UK charity that aims to boost tropical reforestation projects.
Enter BF25 when you buy online at missoma.com and you’ll get 25 per cent off and a forest tree will be planted on your behalf.
All-natural skincare brand BYBI (available at bybi.com and Boots) also pledges to plant ten trees for every BYBI skincare bundle of products purchased between November 28 and December 2. Trees will be planted in the Amazon.
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