Black Friday – What you need to know
Imported from the US, Black Friday has only been around for three years in the UK, but it’s already proved a massive boost for shoppers and sellers alike.
It’s no longer just a day, but a whole weekend of shopping frenzy, spilling over into cyber Monday with online bargains.
We're predicted to spend a whopping £4b this year over the four-day period, with £2b on Black Friday itself – and more than half will be spent online, according to credit card provider MBNA.
And retail association IMRG and Similarweb predict spending for the whole week could reach £6.77b.
Perhaps wishful thinking on the part of retailers – but certainly a lot of cash will be changing hands.
Many people are aware that the fall in the pound since the Brexit vote means prices of many products, especially overseas-made electronics ones, will inevitably be on the rise shortly, if they haven’t already shot up.
Many will be out trying to beat the price rises. Before you start shopping frantically, make sure you know your consumer rights.
Black Friday bargains, where to look
Of course, it’s all a marketing tactic to get us to spend more.
It’s called Black Friday because it was often the time retailers moved into the ‘black’ because of the frenzied buying.
By creating a huge amount of excitement over a few massively discounted items, retailers get thousands of customers through their doors – many will end up buying something other than what they went in for and lots will spend much more than they ever intended.
Many small stores also now join in the price cutting frenzy, but most shoppers will head to the big names in the High Street, or online.
The vast majority of the big names are taking part this year, including:
If you fancy bagging bargains at any of these stores, check what time they open because things may be a little different for the big day – Tesco, for example, plans to open stores at 5am. Last year they faced a stampede as they slashed electrical items by 70%.
They haven’t confirmed they’ll do that this year, but no doubt there will be wallet-catching bargains aplenty.
Black Friday outside the Apple store on New York's 5th Avenue
But is it all such a big deal anyway?
Consumer group Which? says its research shows fully 50% of us have never even shopped on Black Friday.
Even more interesting is that almost half of those who will go shopping this weekend think they’ll get a bargain anyway (49%).
And only 28% of people who have shopped previously on Black Friday say they actually enjoyed the experience!
Most of us hate the buying frenzy and the argy bargy of huge crowds jostling to grab the best buys.
So, are we nuts?
Well, quite possibly.
Beyond the items that are really hugely reduced there may be many more items that are reduced but less impressively – they may not be the bargain they appear to be; but it can be hard to judge amid all the crowds and excitement.
The secret is to do your research first to see if that bargain really is one. For that you can’t beat going online to compare offerings.
Quick Black Friday tips
1. Check store opening times – they may well be different to normal.
2. Many items are only reduced at the last minute to generate a sense of excitement. So, if you’ve got your eye on a particular item, do your research beforehand, so you’ll know whether a reduction is all it’s cracked up to be.
3. If an item catches your eye but you’re not sure it’s a bargain, pop it in your trolley and use your phone to research it in store. You can always put it back.
4. Get on big stores email and text alert lists and follow them on social media to learn of their best offers asap.
5. Many stores have a dedicated Black Friday deals page, like this one at Halfords. These may only be updated at the last moment, so they are worth keeping an eye on, especially if you’re looking for something specific. In our list of companies above, we've linked to the relevant Black Friday page where possible.
6. Don’t be instantly impressed by % off deals – if something has ’20% off’, ask yourself ‘off what?’
The full RRP, an already reduced price, off what it can be bought for elsewhere?
7. Watch out for the full price accessory trick.
Shops, especially supermarkets, can be very good at bundling goods - where they place the necessary accessories next to a main item. These may well be full price AND expensive. Think: Buy a set-top box for example and the lead is extra.
Buy a printer and it might come with a little ink in the cartridges, but you’ll need to fork out for the those expensive full-capacity refills. It’s basically the old ‘batteries not supplied’ trick; it’ just that the equivalent to batteries these days can sometimes cost half as much as the main item.
Happy bargain hunting!
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