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This month, we do a deep-dive into the crazy day of sales and wonder whether you’d be better off if you avoid shopping on Black Friday altogether. For years, the cold weather kicking in and the days getting shorter meant only one thing: we were drawing ever closer to the sound of Michael Buble blasting out of shop speakers, guilt-free chocolate for breakfast and Home Alone, Love Actually and Die Hard marathons with bellies full of mince pies, After Eights and mulled wine.
But in the last few years, we’ve inherited a tradition from our American cousins: huge savings, massive deals and super-sized savings in the form of Black Friday. And last year, the people of the UK spent £1.4bn on online sales on Black Friday alone. That’s a crazy amount of money. But, according to Which?, lots of Black Friday deals are considerably cheaper or available at the same price at other times throughout the year. Or, in other words, these exclusive, massive savings are neither exclusive or massive. They’re a marketing ploy to drive up sales and extend the lucrative Christmas period by a few weeks.
So, should you avoid shopping on Black Friday?
Well, it’s complicated. On the one hand, the point of Black Friday is to get you to spend more money, but if you don’t have the time to search for the best bargains for a few weeks before Black Friday, then it’s also an opportunity to grab some huge savings that probably won’t be available again in the run-up to Christmas. So, if you’re doing your Christmas shop on a budget and know what you’re looking for, Black Friday can be an opportunity to save a pretty penny. But on the other hand, Black Friday has been designed to get you to open your wallets and spend much more money than you ordinarily would.
There’s eye-catching deals (some of which have been manipulated to appear better), an all-week blast of marketing and advertising, and the pressure of ‘if I don’t buy this now, it’ll be gone tomorrow’. And when you take that into account alongside the Which? report, it makes sense to avoid shopping on Black Friday altogether and instead look for better deals throughout the month leading up to it.
Avoid shopping on Black Friday unless there’s something you need or have been planning to buy
Last year, Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert, appeared on ITV’s This Morning to give the audience some sound advice on Black Friday: don’t shop impulsively, but use it to snap up a deal on things you would already have bought. He said: “if you’re only buying it because you think it’s a bargain and wouldn’t have done so otherwise, it’s not a saving, it’s an extra cost of £50. So you need to control your spending impulses and plan exactly what you want first. Ask yourself do I need it? Can I afford it? Have I checked whether it is available cheaper elsewhere? If the answer to any of those is no. Then don’t buy it.”
You can see the whole segment here. It’s well worth a watch:
And remember, if you choose not to avoid shopping on Black Friday, shop smart
If you’ve got some money to spare, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of a Black Friday shopping spree. It’s nice to treat yourself and be impulsive sometimes, isn’t it? However, you can still have a bit of a spree and make sure you get the upper hand on the stores that are trying to take your money by installing a browser extension called CamelCamelCamel that lets you view the price history of millions and millions of products so you can work out whether that AMAZING DEAL is really such an amazing deal, or whether the store is just trying to sucker you out of some money.
InvisibleHand is another extension that helps you make informed decisions by letting you know whether the product is available for cheaper elsewhere on the internet. Plus, it does all the checking for you, popping up to say that it’s found somewhere selling your item cheaper without you even having to click a button. Once you’ve installed it, it gets to work saving you money right away.
InvisibleHand works on flights too, if you’re a sun-seeking bargain hunter!
Finally, don’t forget to check the returns policy
If you’ve decided that you’re not going to avoid shopping on Black Friday, make sure you check the returns policies on everything, even if it’s a site or a store you know and trust. Most retailers extend their returns period during the Christmas season, but some retailers might not extend that to Black Friday or introduce different rules for electronics or other discounted goods. Either way, it’s worth checking before you hit that buy now button or hand over your cash. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck with a gift card or store credit for a shop or site you probably won’t shop in again.
Are you planning on snagging some Black Friday deals or are you planning to avoid shopping on Black Friday altogether? Let us know in the comments or on social media!
- Author The Bamboo Team
- Posted 16 November 2018