Don’t get reeled in by deals that are simply too good to be true!
Black Friday falls on 29 November this year (2019), so you can expect to see shops dropping their prices in anticipation of people fighting to bag a bargain and filling their shopping trolley with cut-priced goods.
Black Friday is often seen as the official start of the Christmas shopping season, so retailers are keen to attract anyone looking to start their Christmas gift-buying by slashing their prices. But is Black Friday really as good as it sounds and how can you avoid a Black Friday rip-off?
The Transatlantic Origins of Black Friday
The mega-sale day originated in the USA and came about because Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November, then they observe the following Friday as an unofficial holiday.
As most people in the USA take this day off work, retailers started to drop their prices for the day to encourage shoppers to buy from them and to mark the Christmas season.
In the UK, retailers caught on to this and the trend for holding a Black Friday sale picked up momentum from 2010 onwards. In 2014, Black Friday became the official pre-Christmas online day of sales.
Is Black Friday a Scam?
While many people look forward to the sale and will save up money just to spend grabbing a bargain or two, others have become more cynical, suggesting that Black Friday is being used by retailers to unload their unwanted goods onto an unsuspecting public that are hungry for a bargain – any bargain!
Fundamentally, no! Black Friday isn’t a scam. And it is possible to secure some cracking deals on the day itself and days surrounding it. It’s all about being savvy with your shopping, as with any other time of year. If there’s something you’re planing to buy anyway and the retailer has a sitewide Black Friday discount code, then it’s a no brainer and it will save you money. But don’t be lured by deals that aren’t all they seem or be tempted into buying something you otherwise wouldn’t have bought.
In other words, Black Friday should be a money saving opportunity, not an opportunity to buy something you wouldn’t otherwise have bought or to stack up credit!
Black Friday is important, but to who?
If you want to put a positive spin on things, then Black Friday is important not only to retailers but also to the economy. The more goods retailers sell the better their profits and the more people they can employ and more staff get to keep their jobs.
So, if you are not carrying around a lot of debt and can afford to save up a bit of money to splurge in the Black Friday sales, then it can be seen as a good thing for everyone.
Yes, it is great that during this time many thousands of retailers will go all-out to compete with each other over prices and will sweeten their deals with added extra offers that really can be a steal. However, you still need to be savvy with your purchases to avoid a Black Friday rip-off.
Avoiding Black Friday Scams and Bum Deals
Many people suspect that prices are not actually lowered on Black Friday. An example of a common marketing practice often done by some major supermarkets is where they will subtly inflate the price of a range of goods on a run-up to a major price-slashing promotion.
This means that the products often featured in the promotion at lower prices have not had their prices cut by nearly as much as their marketing campaign claims.
The Black Friday sales will see an overload of information coming from retailers and online stores pushing their message that there are significant savings to be had.
The question is how much time are you prepared to invest in discovering whether or not you are actually being offered a bargain? There are a couple of good ways to uncover the truth and avoid any Black Friday scams out there:
1. Price Comparison – Every Single Time
So that telly you’ve got your eye on is 30% off on Black Friday. But 30% off what? 30% off what they’ve been selling it for over the past 6 months? Or 30% off the market value of it right now?
That’s the important question.
Compare prices by doing a simple Google search and then head to the “shopping” tab where you’ll see that product from multiple retailers to enable you to see what prices are elsewhere.
Head off to other sites too and just double check that product isn’t a better price somewhere else. If you use Cashback sites, don’t forget to take that into account too. You can often earn 1 to 4% on electricals through Quidco, for example.
2. The Wayback Machine
It’s often worth a peek to see if you can see old versions of the page you’re considering an online purchase from in the Wayback Machine.
This is an internet archive project that is maintained by Internet Archive and Alexa Internet. Its purpose is to collect as much content as possible from websites that may be lost should those websites change or are closed down.
(If you want some guidance about how to use the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, then there is a handy guide on WikiHow).
Since its launch, the Wayback Machine has archived more than 466 billion web pages. Users can go to the site and type in a website URL to discover an archive showing the history for that site.
So if you wanted to check out the previous price for a Black Friday bargain that you have spotted to make sure you really are getting a good deal, you can use the Wayback Machine to look back at how much the price has changed for the item since the company listed it for sale.
For example, if you want to buy a new TV in the sale then you can look back to see how much that make and model has gone up or come down in price before the Black Friday sale.
By using these options you can find out whether you really have spotted a Black Friday bargain, or save yourself from being the victim of a Black Friday scam.
If it seems too good to be true, it might well be!
Image courtesy of My Favourite Voucher Codes under Creative Commons.