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What do you really think of Black Friday?

Imported fad? All hype? We’ve found that Black Friday isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. What do you think of the annual sales ‘event’?

25/11/2020: Black Friday from home

This year many more of us will be shopping from the comfort of our own sofas this Black Friday, but what does that mean for the sales?

Before lockdowns in England and Wales, accounting firm PWC estimated spending was actually going to increase by 8% this year – from £7.8bn to £8.4bn. But because of the lockdown 2.0 it now expects spending to fall to £6.2bn – a 20% decline vs last year.

It can be tempting to scour the sales for a bargain, but we’ve found time and time again that you can get the same deal – or an even better one – at another time of year.

If you decide to spend this year rember deals that look too good to be true often are, so don’t fall for time-limited offers.

Looking for something in particular? Make sure you do your research first – that way you’ll know a genuine bargain when you see one.

27/11/2019: What do you think of Black Friday?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been completely swamped by Black Friday offers in the last few weeks. It’s extraordinary the extent to which the new discounting event has caught on in recent years.

In case you didn’t know, the day itself is this Friday 29 November.

It’s estimated that UK consumers will spend something in the region of £8 billion in the eight days around Black Friday this year – with more than £1.5 billion of that being spent on the day itself.

To put that figure into perspective, if you spent £1 every second it would take 11.5 days to spend £1million. It would take almost 32 years to spend £1billion. 

Will you be joining the spending frenzy? If so, you’ll want to read this before hitting those sales.

Cheaper at other times of the year

We tracked the prices of 83 must-have products in the Black Friday sales in 2018, including soundbars, speakers, coffee machines and TVs.

Only four of those products were actually cheapest on Black Friday compared with other times of the year.

95% of Black Friday ‘deals’ cheaper or the same price after the sales

We even found an Indesit tumble dryer on sale at Currys PC World that had been ‘marked down’ for Black Friday 2018 to the low, low price of £199. Just a fortnight before, it had cost £20 less than that.

Is Black Friday all hype? Our findings would certainly suggest so.

How to find a bargain

That being said, there are genuine bargains to be found for those who are willing to do a little research. As the old adage goes, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. 

We’re urging shoppers not to feel pressured by the hype around Black Friday. Instead do some research; draw up a shortlist of the products you want or need and the prices you’re happy to pay.

If it’s something you want, at a good price, then it’s a good deal. 

And we can help. For those who are going to hit the sales (despite our findings!), we’ve pulled together everything you could possibly want to know to ensure you make the most of the sale.

Our experts have also handpicked some of the best deals we can find.

How do you feel about Black Friday? Are you fed up with it? Could we do without it?

Whether you’re hitting the ‘sales’ or not, let us know your thoughts.


The only thing I remember about Black Friday is that a few years ago, I saw a review on Amazon for a watch that was probably written by someone working for Amazon. It was for a watch brand I’d never heard of, and somehow it got 5 stars a few minutes after it started being sold on the website. Who knew Amazon had an instant delivery option.

Anyway, most of these sale items aren’t going to be good. Most have probably been made to a lower quality just for the sale.

The good stuff never goes on sale.

Ancient says:
27 November 2019

to me, it’s a big con. nothing i want is in a sale and those that are close to what i want were cheaper before Black Friday
is Black Friday a week long day. a better description would be Winter Sale

My husband said to me last week that it was Black Friday and please don’t impulse purchase things. I would have been offended but I have been the butt of jokes here after buying way too much Pokemon things for Christmas for my son! 😀

Joking aside – I rarely see anything I really want discounted. I have a few price alerts on presents for family so it will be interesting to see if they get reduced after this week.

In these days of just in time logistics and flexible manufacturing I think consumers need to be wary of bespoke products that are turned out especially for Black Friday or for the January Sales.

Last year I did spot a few genuine money off offers in Argos.

“They” have been talking about Black Friday for a fortnight now. Christmas started in September and Easter will begin in January. Let’s just have one big sale and a few special days when things are more expensive. Hype these up and make it attractive to buy things at full price for the feel good factor.

Black Friday – Climate catastrophe, what climate catastrophe? Sell, sell, sell!

I think “Black” is an appropriate adjective. And a forecast of the future. Why do Which? promote consumerism? I suppose if we are going to spend our money they want to see us waste it wisely.

I was in town today and chatting to a couple from Kent, who are looking to move north following retirement. I was told that Which? are raising awareness that Black Friday bargains might not be bargains. The main car park was full, so maybe not everyone is getting the message.

AlexB says:
29 November 2019

Marketing is not reality… That’s a theme for the world we live in!

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Having managed to avoid Black Friday, I see that Cyber Monday is coming up. Never mind – not many more marketing days before Christmas, and then there’s the sales on Boxing Day. 🙁


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I think Black Friday serves as effective marketing for Christmas shopping.

Yesterday, I was glad that I only visited local stores on foot. Some local roads and some stores’ car park were absolutely rammed.

Days like that must be hard work for all the stores’ staff. I’m sure they deserve our thanks for all their work on our behalf.

🙂 I’ve been getting email alerts from a shop I used sporadically, each promising massive discounts, flash sales, sales ending in one hour and so on. This has been going on for weeks.

The other day I decided to order two items – each with a promised 22% discount. Got to the checkout, entered the code and was brusquely informed it had expired three days earlier. Which was interesting, as it had only arrived around three hours earlier.

Their CS folk rectified it but do these shops really believe offering a different way to get 22% off every day actually works to their long-term advantage?

I tend to avoid using companies that send marketing emails. A few have joined my blacklist even though I have never used them.

I’m sure that such aggressive marketing is intended to panic lazy shoppers into action.

Hadn’t thought of that. Hmmm.

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Mr Leonard Langdon says:
1 December 2019

Check the origins of this Black Friday then you’ll see why it’s nothing more than a scam.

Black Friday (becoming Black November) is just like so many “sales” and “special offers”. We do have to research what we buy, and buy something because we need it, not because it is “on offer”. But presumably human nature – in many – likes the thought of thinking they are getting a bargain, likes to have the “latest” product, likes to shop, so the answer lies with us. Are we all so stupid that we respond, unwillingly and without reward, to all the sales wiles put in front of us? I doubt it.

I would like to see Which? take a more considered approach to this, and cease promoting particular events, products and retailers that do not really offer best value, both in price and performance. I’d also like their stance on promoting the “latest” models to simply report their existence but then advise whether they really are so much better that we should ditch the previous version.

Should Which? promote Amazon’s dubious Black Friday deals given their record of facilitating the distribution of fake, unsafe and dangerous products – even though Which? profit financially? Should they promote Currys Black Friday given their attitude towards customer rights? Their tvs “on offer” do not seem the best value either – the LG (is the PLA very different from the MLB?) is available £100 cheaper elsewhere. The Sony is the same price at Richer Sounds, but with a 6 year warranty (can’t see Currys discretionary 5 year logo on this tv).

I think one objective of the Consumers Association should be to take a disciplined approach to the consumer society and, on the one hand, help inform people how to buy the best product for their needs while, on the other hand, ensuring they are given advice to only buy what they need. We should not encourage wasteful purchasing. Leave that decision to the consumer.

Black Friday is something we can thank the US for. At its best we can get genuine bargains, but implying savings when prices are unchanged or higher than before is dishonest. Retailers are sometimes picked up for dishonest pricing but since Black Friday promotions are for a short period the retailers seem to get away with it.

Leonard uses the term ‘scam’, which is usually seen as illegal activity, as in the phone calls and emails increasingly used to obtain money from members of the public. I would be interested to know whether ‘scam’ is (or was) ever used for questionable but not illegal marketing.

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Which? offers useful advice on Black Friday: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/black-friday/article/guides

To quote from one of the articles:

“We tracked the prices of 83 products on offer in 2018’s Black Friday deals across a full year – for six months before Black Friday and six months afterwards. The goal was simple: to find out whether Black Friday ‘deals’ really do offer the rock-bottom prices many shoppers expect. And the answer? Usually not. We found that 95% of the Black Friday deal items we investigated – which included popular tech, home and personal care products – were available for the same price or cheaper in the six months after.”

It’s up to consumers to decide whether Black Friday deals are worthwhile.

In olden days, a lot of us subscribed to Which? because that helped us to spend relatively meagre incomes wisely. In those days, we certainly would have expected Which? to show us whether or not upgrading to new products would make sound financial sense.

I don’t recall that Which? product reviews have ever routinely invited us to think about whether buying new products makes sense, although the Car Guide does show that secondhand cars can be much cheaper than new ones. With the number of new products on offer, it’s more important than ever to look at value for money and environmental impact.

I would particularly like Which? to question the benefits of ‘smart’ products. We have discussed the fact that most smart TVs start to lose functionality within a few years of purchase, so it is a fair assumption that any smart devices we buy could fail to communicate with phones, etc. long before they have failed. In a recent Convo, we have discussed potential security issues with using smart devices: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/privacy-smart-devices-mozilla/

Real bargains can be found …

I was on the lookout for 2 items this year, one I have had my eye on for quite a while and picked up for about half its normal price of over £200 so I am more than happy with that purchase. 🙂

The other item I have been thinking of getting is a Veggie Bullet as I have a trigger finger that makes using a knife a bit awkward so would like a simple machine to chop and slice for me that doesn’t create too much washing up afterwards.

The week before Black Friday, it was £129.99 and could be got with 2 free blades on HighstreetTV Shopping channel. On the day, the price went down to £103.99 with a free ribbon blade that I am unlikely to use. The other blade became unavailable although you could still buy it from the same shopping channel through Amazon.

The veggie bullet is a best buy on Which? and it is a shame the review doesn’t highlight the monopoly and dodgy practices of the shopping channel.

The machine is available elsewhere at the same or higher price, but the extra blades are only available from the shopping channel.

I did add the items to a shopping basket and although the machine was free delivery, there was a charge of £2.99 to add a blade to the order.

This is dodgy selling, one company has the monopoly but you cannot buy the machine complete with all its attachments, instead you have to buy them separately and pay extra postage. Anyone who wants the machine complete with all its attachments would have to keep coming back to buy them.

Then there is the price.

Pricespy shows that a few weeks before, it was £89.78 and is currently at around its highest price ever

So, I didn’t buy a veggie bullet. 😞

This is a best buy on Which? and the review really ought to reflect these dodgy selling tactics.

I think “black friday” is a load of stupid hype. It’s only for those who are so desperate to “keep up with the jones’s” and are so desperate to get their hands on the latest “status symbols” like the latest “smart” phone, or big flat screen TV or playstation etc. And no doubt there’ll be plenty of stampeding loudmouths at the various sales. And seeing as we’re in such a serious health crisis at the moment I think the whole event should be withdrawn. And as for the online shopping it will only put far more strain on our couriers which they really don’t need at the moment.

Martin Lewis explained Black Friday well. If you have been wanting to buy a product whose usual price is £50, and it’s reduced to £25 for Black Friday, then it’s a £25 saving. But if you buy the product when you weren’t previously considering buying it until you saw the price reduction, then it’s a £25 cost.

There is another shrewd psychological selling ploy frequently used by retailers when shopping online. You click on an item that you think you maybe interested in and hey presto! up pops a little warning to let you know there are also XXX people looking at it at the same time.

I have realised that I need ink cartridges for one of my printers. As a returning customer a 10% discount applies and there is a 15% discount for Black Friday. Suspecting that the price might have been increased I checked my previous order. The full price had actually dropped so it will be worth buying during ‘Black Friday Week’. Normally I avoid Black Friday.

That was not intended to be a reply to Beryl’s post.

Long before we had heard of Black Friday and the internet we had sales in shops and the sale price was not always lower. If you are planning to make a major purchase it could be worth keeping an eye on price in the run-up to the sales or using one of the online tools to do this.