Black Friday is coming around again, that day in the calendar which marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.
Black Friday is 24th November this year, but are there really bargains to be had? Last year a Which? investigation into Black Friday revealed that 49% of products on offer were actually cheaper in the months before or after Black Friday and the prices it checked last year showed that only 8% of the Black Friday deals were actually the lowest prices. In September Argos was lambasted for its 3 for 2 toy offer where many of the toys worked out cheaper if you bought them the day before.
So how careful do we need to be of Black Friday? Are there really bargains to be had or is it all hype?
1) Write a list before you go shopping
Write down all the things you need to buy. This can include: the people for whom you have to buy presents, possible ideas and a budget. This will help you not go over a budget if you are easily carried away with possible bargains and gives you choices.
2) Do your research before shopping
Armed with your list, look up the likely stores for those people/items. Make a list of the prices that you find.
3) Use comparison websites before shopping
Do an Internet search on specific items and use sites which will compare prices. You may find that there are other stores which stock the items you are after and some may have a better deal regardless of Black Friday!
4) Get right ahead with your shopping!
Put items in baskets! Go online and put things in baskets and don’t checkout. Make a note of what stores you have done this with! Then when Black Friday comes take a look at all the online baskets and see who has what for the cheapest. This way, not only will you have done all your research but you’ll be ahead of others shopping that day for popular items likely to go out of stock!
Often people will say it’s only a bargain if you need it. Twaddle. We don’t need half the clothes and shoes etc. that we own, but if we see a pair of boots reduced it makes the purchase far more attractive. So, have an idea of what items you would like for yourself, if they are reduced.
6) Check for further discounts when shopping online and in store
Internet search your items with phrases like “discount codes” “discount offers” and “vouchers” to see if you can get more discounts. There are a number of sites that provide discount codes for numerous stores.
7) Check out Zeek*.
You can buy and sell gift cards on Zeek. Choose from a range of monetary value gift cards for hundreds of stores with varying discounts. Update 07/02/19 looks like Zeek is going into administration.
8) Black Friday is not just for Christmas
Many retailers spread their deals over the month and others throughout the year. The idea is that consumers will spend the same amount over a year whether the majority is across all year or concentrated over a few weeks. So don’t just look for bargains on Black Friday. There will be Cyber Monday and places like Amazon have daily deals which also need to be checked. Use the Camel Camel Camel website which is a price tracker that provides price drop alerts and price history for products sold by Amazon.
Sign up to newsletters now. You can always unsubscribe later but often newsletters are the best way to be the first to learn of any discounts and offers. “Like” Facebook pages and follow on Twitter as many retailers will announce their offers and discount codes through these methods too. Follow money bloggers who will frequently share discounts and deals. Join forums and money saving groups if you really want to get everything going and check with others if so-called deals are really deals. You could set up a separate email account for all these emails and then allocate some time each day to look at just the deals!
10) Store versus shops
If you intend to go to the stores on Black Friday take your list with you and check the online prices either with that or on the phone. Then you have the double whammy, as sometimes items are in stock online only or in store only.
11) List upcoming events that you need to shop for in the future
Think of future, parties etc. You can pick up some bargain toys for children’s parties that you know you will have in the year and just put them away. (But remember toys will be discounted a lot in the run up to Christmas and after Christmas sales too).
12) Avoid the mobs when shopping
Possibly impossible?! Certainly if you are setting out early for certain stores! But this is where you need a) your list so you don’t get carried away and b) to be sure that that store will have items you want. Remember too that offers written on doors are often just a way to get you in and there may be limited stock!
13) Take care on seasonal items
Things like Winter coats are likely to be in the sales and discounted further when retailers want to get rid of their stock and Christmas decorations will still be cheaper after the event!
14) Use Cashback sites to save even more money
Sites like Topcashback*, Quidco*, Free Fivers*, Kidstart* (Kidstart cashback goes to your nominated child’s bank account). Others that I’ve not used are Imutual, Give or take and there are others. They all provide cashback when you go through their sites and make purchases from the stores listed. Check them all, as they have different retailers and different percentages! Do this before filling your online baskets so you’re all set to go! Most have apps so you can do this whilst out shopping when you see a bargain and can order and get it delivered instead! Don’t rely on this though as there may be terms and conditions that you miss (such as using vouchers) negating the cashback.
15) Make sure that a price promise really is a price promise
Some places have a price promise which is great. But read the small print! Some stores such as John Lewis won’t match an online price, for example. Others will only match the price if it was on sale that exact same day and most, if not all, will tell you it has to be exactly the same item/bundle. So, exactly the same colour, make, model, free gift, warranty etc. (Although remember your consumer rights provide more protection than any “free warranty”).
16) Check the model before you think you have a bargain
Black Friday is usually good for getting the latest technology, but check the release dates for the next model. Will you still want that ‘phone or laptop if the newer version comes out a week later?
17) Stay up late!
If you have done all your preparation, be ready to go online just after midnight on Black Friday morning, so you get your bargains before things go out of stock.
18) Security is important when you are shopping online
Check that the site is secure and bona fide to prevent any fraud. Don’t just click on the first site that comes up in a search engine query unless you’re sure where you’re going. See Don’t let shopping online become a “rip off”
19) Add ons to your purchases
A lot of the items may need additional things such as batteries. Don’t get these at the same time, you will more than likely get these cheaper when you do research on that at a later date!
20) Articles about Black Friday
Every so often Google “Black Friday offers (insert year)”! This will bring up store pages and online newspaper articles which reveal where some of the best bargains are.
Consumer Rights and Black Friday
Remember your consumer rights are just the same when buying items in the sales. See Consumer Rights Act 2015.
Should you have need to complain see Top 20 Tips How to Complain!
For more information on consumer rights, laws, tips and templates get the book How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!
*Referral links. I’ll get a few pounds if you sign up once you’ve made more than whatever their minimum is. (Topcashback is the one I really use and that’s £10) Depending on when you click on this link you should receive a bonus too but that depends on the offer on at the time. You can then use your own referral link and send to friends too! Free money!