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t’s easy to be swept up in the hoopla surrounding Black Friday, but you also need to be equipped to spot fakes and measly discounts. Of course, that could mean foregoing the late November shopping event altogether — if you can handle the fomo, that is.
What is Black Friday?
Black Friday is the biggest sales day in the retail calendar. Though it officially takes place on November 25, many shops and brands kick things off even earlier in the month. Originating in the US, Black Friday used to conjure images of shoppers getting trampled as they rushed to grab the latest in-store deals. Nowadays, many people do their shopping online, so it’s more a case of first-come, first-served than push and shove. Black Friday is followed by Cyber Monday on November 28, marking four days of serious discounts and, for some, buyer’s remorse.
To check what’s on offer, take a look at our selection of the best Black Friday deals currently available, including money off tech gadgets like headphones, tablets, and gaming.
How to avoid a bad deal on Black Friday
1. Research the product before buying
This applies to both the item’s release date, version, and manufacturer. If you’re after the newest phone, for instance, brief yourself on the difference between an iPhone 14 and the high-end iPhone 14 Pro. The same goes for the Xbox Series S versus the more powerful Xbox Series X games console, or the first-gen Airpods Pro wireless earbuds and the latest second-gen model.
2. Be wary of unfamiliar brands
It’s particularly important to do your research when confronted with a brand you don’t recognise, which can often be the case on sites like Amazon, that offer countless cheap alternatives to popular gadgets. It’s also important to check whether that smart TV with 4K HDR is really the best in class. Some specs are all too common and don’t equate to optimal performance out of the box.
3. Check the price history of products
A little bit of digging can help you avoid a bad deal this Black Friday. Price-comparison services for Amazon, like CamelCamelCamel and the Keepa browser extension for Chrome, can help you snuff out a paltry offer. While PriceRunner and PriceSpy offer more extensive coverage of the market.
4. Prioritise the price over the discount
The above sites can also help you identify if a seller has raised the price of an item ahead of Black Friday to make it seem like the discount is even steeper. That’s why you should always check the price over the discount.
How to avoid Black Friday scams
To be clear, scams are not the same as bad deals with prices that don’t match historic lows. When we talk about scams, we mean actual fraudulent offers distributed through malicious websites, social media, text messages, and email.
One way to avoid these is to bookmark the sites you want to use and avoid all links sent to you through the above methods. In addition, you can usually spot a fake website by paying close attention to the url, product reviews, and images. If these contain spelling mistakes or low-quality photos and five-star ratings for all the items, then you may be confronted with a fake.
Outside of Black Friday, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute has previously warned of scams that saw fraudsters impersonating big companies, such as Amazon and delivery services like Royal Mail and DPD. It warns that similar cons could “rear their ugly head” during the sales event.
In fact, it seems the time leading up to Black Friday is peak season for scammers. Barclays Bank recently reported that three-quarters (75 per cent) of Brits have noticed an increase in suspicious or scam-related activity in the past month, and almost half (47 per cent) have been targeted by a scam by email or text in the past few months.
Is Black Friday truly worth it?
The jury is out on whether Black Friday truly is the best retail sales day. During the last Black Friday sales, Money Saving Expert found that retailers did indeed provide the biggest discounts on 50 of the most popular items compared to pre-Christmas sales. For example, Apple’s iPad Pro tablets were up to £150 less during Black Friday and a Nintendo Switch Lite bundle with Animal Crossing was £70 less.
However, Which? previously revealed that 99.5% per cent of Black Friday items were available for the same price or cheaper at other times of the year.