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UK shoppers are planning to spend an average of £224 each in this year’s Black Friday sales, according to research by PwC.
Black Friday officially kicks off on Friday, but many of us will splash our cash in the November sales bonanza which seems to last for weeks.
The thing is, that this marketing phenomenon is often a case of something being “too good to be true”.
According to consumer group Which?, the real deals on offer aren’t what they’re cracked up to be, with most goods cheaper or available for the same price at other times.
It found that just four of 83 products they studied last year were cheaper during the Black Friday promotion.
What’s more, for many shoppers, the rush to bag a bargain will mean paying on plastic – figures from Yorkshire Building Society show that 40% of shoppers will use a credit card to fund their purchases – which can be a financial nightmare come the New Year.
But, it’s not all doom and gloom. You can make the most of the sales, so long as you know what you want and where to find it.
Here are my top tips for getting through the hype:
1 Get a heads up on Christmas deals
Be ahead of the game when it comes to holiday bargain hunting with MoneySavingExpert.com’s Christmas Deals Predictor.
Here you can find out when shops such as Selfridges, Asos, Marks & Spencer and La Redoute are likely to run discounts based on when they cut prices in previous years. The consumer group has analysed eight years of festive deals to forecast 2019’s offers.
Of course, the tool can’t guarantee that retailers will follow the same pattern as previous years, but MoneySavingExpert says its 2018 Deals Predictor got 93% of offers right.
2 Be prepared
Before you start filling up your shopping basket, sign up for all the online accounts that you think you might want to shop at. Storing your details in advance means that you will be able to check out without wasting time – and you reduce the risk that the product that you have your eye on will be out of stock.
What’s more, when you go into a shop such Homesense or TK Maxx (my favourites), make sure you browse empty handed.
Much like how a goldfish continues to grow to fill its container, the amount we buy is directly related to the size of our shopping trolley or basket.
In fact, a US study found that when retailers doubled the size of their shopping trolleys, people bought 37% more. Yikes.
3 Study history before you buy
With Black Friday well under way, now is a good time to study prices of the items that you have on your Christmas List.
Some big-name retailers have been known to hike prices in the lead up to the sale, to give shoppers the impression that you are getting a better deal than you thought.
Always check the price history of a product and comparing prices to ensure the discount is worthwhile. For items at Argos, try Price History while Amazon shoppers can use Camel, Camel, Camel to see if it’s ever sold for less. Also worth a look is Offer of the Day, a site that gathers up all the best discount deals from UK retailers, and presents them all in one place
4 Sign up for sales alerts
With deals starting at varying times across Black Friday and Cyber Monday, ensure that you are signed up to your favourite retailers’ newsletters to gain early access to discounts and VIP slots. The trick is to be ready as early as possible to avoid missing out.
It’s also worth following any brands on social media to hear about any offers or further discounts. But bear in mind that lots of bogus deals that will do the rounds around this busy shopping weekend.
On Facebook, for instance, fraudsters will create a tempting offer which will be posted and ask users to ‘like’ and ‘share’ the advert to boost it to the top of news feeds and target a wider audience. Those who click through will be asked for personal details, which will be used for fraudulent activity.
Always look for the blue tick to ensure that the account is legit.
5 Get on board with free trials
The Amazon Black Friday sale is always eagerly awaited by bargain hunters with deals running until 29 November, but the best discounts are offered to Prime members via exclusives and early access to thousands of ‘lightning deals’ (the ones that routinely sell out fastest) thirty minutes before the everyone else.
So rather than miss out on the low-prices on offer, sign up to the free 30-day trial, and make a date in your diary to cancel a month later
Further add to your savings and download the Amazon app and look on the ‘Upcoming’ page which is filled with future offers and will publish the exact time of each launch. Ensure you don’t miss on a price drop and tap the ‘Watch this deal’ button on anything listed. You will be sent a push notification when the deal becomes live.
6 Backdate your Black Friday savings
Black Friday bargains don’t only apply to new products you bought on the biggest shopping weekend of the year, some retailers will price match after you made your purchase.
John Lewis, for instance, will refund you the difference up to 28 days after you made your purchase. But bear in mind that The Never Knowingly Undersold policy does not apply to items sold by stores that are online only.
But keep the price match promise in mind while you are browsing the pre-Christmas sales as you might be able to save money retrospectively. Want to know how I did it and got £155 back with just three purchases? Read my blog post about it to get a piece of the action.
Or, you can make a claim online here.
7 Get discount alerts while you browse
Are you getting fed up searching online for voucher codes, only to find they are invalid? Or perhaps you feel like you have been missing out on cash back offers in the flurry of sales?
Why not download a Chrome extension to make it easier to get your hands on decent discounts?
If you download Pricesearcher you will be automatically alerted to working voucher codes when buying online. The good news? The code will be applied directly to your shopping basket in one-click. Easy.
While both Quidco and Topcashback have handy extensions that can be added to your browser easily and quickly whether it’s on Chrome or Firefox. Whenever you shop at a retailer that pays a cash back rate, a pop up will appear and remind you to visit the site.
8 It’s not just presents that have price cuts
Black Friday savings aren’t only for the products you are planning on popping under the tree – you can save on household bills too.
While those looking to lower their house hold bills can save money on broadband and entertainment packages. Sky, BT and Virgin Media have rolled out special deals ahead of the 29th with competitive tariffs and hefty cash back rewards. However, as always do you maths carefully to ensure you are choosing the best package for your usage. Try a comparison site such as Broadband Choices to see what suits your needs when it comes to internet, TV and mobile phones.
9 Google Alerts can help you grab a bargain
Google Alerts is a great tool for any savvy online shopper – and using it is easy. Here you can set up alerts for the topics that you are interested in – all you do is enter a key words and Google will email you any new content that contains these search terms whenever it is published online.
What’s more, you can narrow your search further and add additional criteria, such as the frequency of the alerts, the clothing size and the local area or country you want to see content from.
Choose your search words carefully, and focus on terms such as retailer specific coupons or discount/promo codes, sales, freebies and giveaways. Instead of having to search the internet yourself for content the best bargains on offer, you can get Google Alerts to do hard work for you.
Find out other ways that Google can help you save money on a post I wrote a while back.
10 Put the brakes on impulse spending
More than half of us will impulse buy in the Black Friday period, but a third of us admit to regretting purchases we made in last year’s sales, according to research from Protect Your Bubble.
To avoid post-Black Friday regret, it’s worth planning ahead. Make lists of the products that you’re most keen to bag a bargain with, work out how much you can afford to spend and shop around.
One way to ensure you don’t buy in haste, download a Google Chrome extension such as Icebox which gives you a cooling-off period so you can shop around or sleep on it before buying. Icebox either replaces the ‘buy’ button or works as a pop-up on hundreds of the UK’s top online stores including ASOS, Next and Topshop.