Black Friday: deal or no deal?

Are Black Friday deals really worth the hype? Or could you score an even better deal on a different day? We take a look at these and other questions.

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Are Black Friday deals really worth all the hype? I’m sure that for many people, this is not even a question. Black Friday is the day you get to buy a wide range of items for a fraction of their normal cost.

But are Black Friday bargains really as good as retailers would have us believe? Or are you better off saving your money and waiting for an even better deal on another day of the year? 

Is Black Friday really the best day of the year to shop?

If you asked many shoppers the question, the answer would most likely be a resounding yes. But an interesting study conducted by Which? might make you think twice.

The firm tracked the prices of 83 products on sale on Black Friday at major retailers including Amazon, Currys and John Lewis for a year. They found that nearly all Black Friday deals were actually cheaper or available for the same price at other times of the year.

Only four products out of the 83 (that’s just 5%) were actually cheaper on Black Friday. Six out of every ten products on offer were cheaper or available at the same price on at least one day in the six months preceding Black Friday.

Now, this is just one study. But if its findings are anything to go by, Black Friday might not be all that it’s made out to be.

What’s the lure of Black Friday?

Well, it’s mostly about the psychological tactics that retailers use.

The stakes are quite high for most retailers during the Black Friday sales. It’s the period they stand to make some of their biggest profits for the year. Therefore, it’s no surprise that on Black Friday, they’ll pull out every trick in the book to get you shopping.

Most of the deals on Black Friday are designed to make you act on impulse. By using limited time offers, for example, retailers are able to create a sense of urgency among shoppers.

Driven by this time pressure, shoppers make purchase decisions quickly, often without even taking time to consider whether they’re really getting a good deal. Some even end up buying things they don’t really need just because they’re on a limited time offer.

Another prominent psychological tactic used by retailers is the ‘was’ price. Browse your favourite online store on Black Friday and you’ll find tags like ‘was £200, now £100’.

Most of us, unfortunately, fixate on the ‘was price’ (which might not be real) rather than the actual price we’ll end up paying. We’re convinced we’re getting a bargain even when we might not be.

So, are there any good Black Friday deals?

Yes, there are. You just need to be smart and know where to look. Here are a few useful tips to help you make the most of Black Friday deals.

1. Do your research 

Compare prices on multiple websites. Some sites, such as PriceRunner, CamelCamelCamel, and PriceSpy, will show you the price history of a product to help you establish whether you’re really getting a bargain.

2. Don’t impulse buy

Make a list of what you need and stick to it. A £200 coffee machine that you don’t need bought for £100 is not a saving. It’s an expense that may limit what you have to spend on things you really want or need. It may even harm your finances.

3. Avoid panic buying

It may seem like you’ll be missing out on good deals if you don’t buy on Black Friday. But don’t panic and buy without first confirming the true value of the deal. If you wait, you might still be able to get the same item for the same price once the hype dies down.

4. Ignore ‘was’ prices

‘Was’ prices should be taken with a pinch of salt, especially if you can’t actually find the item for sale at that price anywhere else. It would be more useful to do a price comparison across several retailers to establish the true value of the item.

Key takeaway

Not all Black Friday deals are what they seem. So do your homework, compare prices and really think about what you’re spending your cash on.

If, after doing your homework, you’re able to identify good deals on items that you genuinely need, then it makes sense to go for them.

You might even be able to score some additional benefits while at it. If you pay using a cashback credit card, for example, you’ll get some cash back for every pound you spend.

A credit card will also offer you protection under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if something goes awry with your purchase.

As for me, I might pick up an item or two on Black Friday after doing my research and confirming that I’m genuinely getting a good deal. But I think I’ll still be saving most of my money this Black Friday and instead looking for even better deals once things settle down.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

The Motley Fool receives compensation from some advertisers who provide products and services that may be covered by our editorial team. It’s one way we make money. But know that our editorial integrity and transparency matters most and our ratings aren’t influenced by compensation. The statements above are The Motley Fool’s alone and have not been provided or endorsed by bank advertisers. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Mastercard. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Barclays, Hargreaves Lansdown, HSBC Holdings, Lloyds Banking Group, and Tesco.

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