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Is it worth shopping for Black Friday deals?

Love it or hate it, Black Friday is here once again. But while we know the deals aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be, is it really an event to be avoided at all costs? Here’s how we approach it.

Long-standing followers will know that every year, we reveal the eye-watering proportion of the previous Black Friday’s deals that were available for the same price or cheaper in the six months before and after the event.

This year, that figure is the highest it’s ever been at 99.5%.

You might think it’s obvious that products’ prices will fall over time – but even when we focused exclusively on the six months before Black Friday 2020, 92% of the products in our study were available for the same price or less. All of which makes it clear that most of the time, those ‘special offers’ flashing up on our screens and in stores aren’t all that… well, special.

So why cover Black Friday deals at all?

Despite what you might think, we don’t actually believe shopping on Black Friday is a bad thing – you just need to go into it with eyes wide open and a bit of research up your sleeve.

Thanks to our small army of researchers, we know that there are genuinely excellent deals to be found among the duds. Our experts scour thousands of offers, using their unrivalled product knowledge and pricing expertise to identify the deals that really are worth a look.

We cover those deals through a selection of articles – some, such as the best TV and laptop deals, grouped by product type, and others, like the best Amazon, Argos, Currys and John Lewis deals, cut by retailer. But this isn’t a random decision: we do it because we know it’s what shoppers want, based on market analysis and online search trends (last year, more than 98,000 people Googled ‘Amazon Black Friday’ in November, while for Currys it was just shy of 80,000). 

Does Which? make money from that coverage?

When someone clicks on a retailer (affiliate) link in one of our deals articles and goes on to purchase something from that website, we do sometimes earn a commission (you can read more about that here).

We also encourage non-members to join Which? before deciding what to buy, in order to check our detailed product reviews and lab test results.

The money that’s made through affiliate revenue and subscriptions helps us to continue our not-for-profit mission.

What’s our advice for Black Friday shopping?

Before buying anything in the Black Friday sales, we’d always urge you to do the following:

🛒 Plan what you want to buy in advance, to avoid impulse purchases you might later regret.

🛒 Check product reviews with a reputable source such as yours truly.

🛒 Investigate the product’s pricing history to see whether today’s price is actually any good, using price comparison sites such as PriceRunner, PriceSpy or – if you’re buying from Amazon – CamelCamelCamel.

🛒 Shop around, and if you’re in store check competitor prices on your phone. If somewhere else is offering a better price, ask the store to match it.

🛒 Know your rights– if you’re buying online you have 14 days from the date of delivery to cancel the order and a further 14 to return it. Returns policies are less black and white for in-store shopping, so check before you buy.

🛒 Whatever you do, don’t feel pressured to buy anything this Black Friday: as our research has shown, chances are it will be available for the same price or less in the months ahead.

So, what do you think – are you planning to buy anything in the sales, or are you hibernating until it’s all gone away?

Are you planning to buy something in the Black Friday sales this year?
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Comments

@jon-stricklin-coutinho, @ele-clark, Ele, Jon, there have been a number of relevant comments made in Lobby 4. Are these going to be transferred across to this new Convo?

You could put in a link to the comments in The Lobby, Malcolm. Perhaps that would attract more people to come and join in with our discussions.

Think I’ve covered all the ones that needing moving if there’s anything else you feel is relevant to move here – please do let me know 🙂

@chiragkhetiya, Thanks Chirag.
For those who don’t know what Lobby 4 is, it is here https://conversation.which.co.uk/discussion/off-topic-lobby-4/. Just another Convo where topics are raised that do not fit any existing Convos. Well worth a visit and joining in.

malcolm r says:23 November 2021
https://press.which.co.uk/whichpressreleases/nine-in-10-black-friday-deals-same-price-or-cheaper-ahead-of-the-event-which-reveals/
”Which?’s pricing investigation also found that, when looking at the six months after Black Friday, almost all (98.5%) of the products across the six retailers were cheaper or the same price at some point during this period – suggesting that in some cases shoppers may be better off biding their time and waiting for the price of a product to fall further.”

This, and the rest of the report, makes me even more baffled as to why Which? continues to publicise Black Friday (non) Deals when, in the vast majority of cases, they seem to just trick customers into buying stuff they may not need, probably not the best choice and apparently very rarely at the best price. It seems quite contrary to proper consumer advice.

Which? have said ”The value Which? aims to add here for consumers is to equip you to know whether products on offer are worth it and, if so, whether the price is a good deal as well.”. Clearly, as Which? also tell us that virtually all the products can subsequently be bought at the same price or cheaper this seems rather contradictory. No real point then in taking note of BF Deals.

If you are prepared to monitor the prices for a few months before BF you can find out if BF prices are bargains or not. As a consumers’ organisation I don’t think Which? can realistically ignore BF, but a warning that it is a giant marketing con might be worthwhile in each article.

It’s rather like buying shares. You need to do your homework.

I avoid buying at BF prices because I cannot be bothered to follow prices.

The following saga ties in quite nicely with the “Best Black Friday washing machine deals 2021, which lists several Samung washing machines and praises John Lewis as the best place to buy in 2020. (Repost from the off-topic thread, until the Moderators can fix it one way or another.)

My 14 year old Bosch vented tumble dryer failed last weekend. A somewhat newer, but leaky Bosch washing machine, which needed regular mopping out internally with paper towels to keep the flood sensor from activating (always remembering to turn off the electricity supply – ouch!), was also on borrowed time. So I decided it was finally time to invest in a new heat pump dryer as promised in these Convos, and a more energy-efficient washing machine that doesn’t leak water.

Based on Which? reviews of appliances, I ordered these “Best Buys” directly from Samsung [Electronics (UK) Ltd] Shop online, where I had some good employee discount and cash-back offers to bring down the cost. My credit card was debited, order confirmation and dispatch notes were issued for delivery on Tuesday, but the tracking numbers continued to indicate that the logisics company knew nothing of it.

By now, I had already disconnected my old appliances for paid collection and disposal. Needless to say, nothing turned up, in spite of proactively chasing both Samsung and their logistics company from early on Tuesday morning.

After further calls and emails to Samsung Customer Care over the next couple of days promising “urgent escalation”, but getting nowhere with a new delivery date, I came across horrific Trustpilot reviews of people having similar issues. With 88% “Bad” review ratings, I emailed on Thursday to cancel the order, siting breach of contract and rights under the UK Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. I couldn’t bear going through that experience again if a Samsung appliance needed servicing under warranty, at least not without a bricks-and-mortar retailer as my contracted intermediary.

I then placed orders with John Lewis for Miele appliances, which were delivered on Friday – next day and one hour before promised – that are now happily catching up with the laundry backlog. I also spend 27 minutes this morning on the phone to a Miele Customer Service agent who tried to help resolve an issue with setting up the Miele@Home App, resetting the appliances and taking me through all the steps (again). The problem remains, but he was surprising competent for a first responder and there was no time spent in a queue or listening to “on hold” music.

I’ve now just come off a webchat with Samsung to confirm my cancellation email has been actioned and my refund has been processed – I’ve heard nothing since I sent it on Thursday. This chat elicited Samsung to send me a further email response attached to my cancellation email. They are now advising that my Samsung appliances are being delivered on Monday! I don’t think so!!!

And you thought Currys was bad? If a Which? researcher wants to get in touch, I will share the relevant emails (not for publication), so you can see I am not making this up.

P.S. Why are all the Which? reviews of Miele tumble dryers for old models that are no longer available?
I’ve had to go with something based on reputation alone.

The washing machine is reviewed by Which?, but listed with a Con of “feeble rinse”. The machine has programmable settings to change the volume of rinse water used and/or to increase the number of rinses. The factory defaults set both of these to minimum to save water. There is even a “Maximum rinse level” setting that will permanently set these to the highest values to achieve “excellent rinse results” for allergy sufferers. Were these not tested?

We are nearly there and the retail world is advertising the last chance for Black Friday purchases.

Perhaps we could have just one day free of consumerism before plunging into Christmas. Are the Easter Eggs in the shops yet?

I’m afraid not – today is Cyber Monday ”Cyber Monday is a marketing term for e-commerce transactions on the Monday after Thanksgiving in the United States. It was created by retailers to encourage people to shop online. Wikipedia
Date: Monday, 29 November 2021

We can all have our own unconsumerist day. I am taking advantage of the lull in the rain storms and the presence of Captain Sunshine to do some work in the garden; I only came indoors for a coffee and a home-made mince pie but made the mistake of opening the laptop.

It’s too cold for gardening here but fine for a brisk walk. Perhaps I have missed the opportunity to stock up on bird food at discount prices.