This is not going to be a normal Black Friday. So many of us are feeling the pinch of rising bills and that means that we need good bargains more than ever – but we don’t have money to waste.
So, Black Friday could be something you ignore this year as you try to save money or it could be something you are relying on to make Christmas work. If you’re feeling the pressure to spot the serious savings then here’s how to find the real deals.
Timing is everything
This year, this American festival of shopping falls on November 25th. Remember, though, although we talk about Black Friday but often retailers turn it into ‘Black Friday Week’ with deals and discounts being advertised well in advance.
So if you know there’s a specific item you’re looking for then don’t wait until the Friday to hunt it down.
Make sure you’re watching for bargains at least a week in advance. BUT the other side of this is not to be rushed. Some websites will make deals time limited and even warn that ‘product is low’ or that other people are shopping. That can be a clever marketing trick designed to put pressure on you and stop you thinking clearly about whether it’s a genuine deal.
Thinking about what you want in advance and how much you want to pay will help you avoid being rushed into a bad bargain.
Know exactly what you need
This is absolutely key. If you are on a tight budget, you don’t want to be rushed into buying something you didn’t actually want.
After all, when it comes to bargains, you’re only saving money if you were going to buy it anyway. If you get sucked in by clever marketing and spend Christmas money on something that isn’t on the list then you will have less cash for the stuff you do need – or risk going into debt.
If you think about the risk of impulse buying in advance, it can be easier to avoid it on the day.
Register in advance
If you register a customer account in advance then you’ll have less to do on the day – and you might be able to get details of deals before other shoppers if you’re signed up to newsletters.
Look for deals on refurbs and preloved
Retailers know their customers are struggling this year and some have tried to change their Black Friday offers as a result.
A number of phone retailers, for example, are going to promote refurbished handsets. That lets you get a discount on a product that’s already cheaper than a brand new item.
So don’t assume that the best bargains will be brand new, you might save more with second hand.
Be careful of fakes
Every year there are stories of brands hiking prices artificially in the run up to Black Friday so they can knock the price down and call it a discount. Or there are retailers that just rebrand existing offers as ‘Black Friday specials’.
The price comparison website PriceSpy has crunched the numbers and warned that on average - over the last three Black Fridays, 13% of products increased in price between 1st October and the Sunday before Black Friday. They could then be ‘reduced’ on the day itself and look like a bargain.
You can avoid being sucked in by these tricks if you do your research in advance, know what price is normal and compare different sellers to find which is offering an actual bargain.
Use a credit card (if you can safely)
No, we’re not encouraging you to go on a Black Friday spending splurge and stick it all on the plastic!
But if you are planning to shop in the sales then using a credit card can give you extra protection.
Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if you buy something worth more than £100 and less than £30,000 using a credit card then the card provider is also responsible for the purchase. That means if the retailer goes under or there’s a problem and they can’t provide a refund then your card company will reimburse you.
But – and this is a very big but – only use this if you know you can use a credit card without overspending and getting into difficulties.
Know your rights
Even in a sale you have consumer rights and it’s important to know them in advance. If you’re shopping online then you have 14 days to cancel your order and you don’t need to give a reason.
If an item is faulty then you can return it within 30 days – any later than that and the retailer is allowed to offer a repair or a replacement instead of a cash refund. Remember that if you buy something that is known to be faulty or if you caused the damage then you no longer have those rights.
Be careful of scams
Unfortunately, Black Friday is a goldmine for criminals who use fake deals and offers to get shoppers to hand over sensitive data like credit card and bank details. And the more desperate shoppers are for those deals, the more likely they are to succumb to a scam.
So be careful, especially of deals you see advertised on social media, as the banking body UK Finance says that is where a lot of purchase scams originate.
There’s also a risk of criminal website impersonating real and trusted brands. Take the time to think and check a website’s credentials and whether the bargain is simply too good to be true. Remember that criminals will try to rush and panic you.
Most importantly, contact your bank or card provider immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and handed over sensitive data.
Watch: 5 tips on how to find the best Black Friday deals