With the cost of living crisis putting pressure on household budgets, it’s likely many will be trying to get the best value for money when shopping this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
There is a bewildering array of retailer websites and apps all claiming to offer products and services at knock-down prices, so Which? has rounded up top tips for navigating the sales.
1. Don’t impulse buy or feel pressured to make purchases you don’t need
Work out what you need or want to buy and how much you’re prepared to spend before you start shopping in the sales. Which? found that the hype around Black Friday and Cyber Monday can lead some shoppers to make impulse buys they later regret – with many using credit or borrowing from friends and family to fund their purchases. Which? surveyed 2,000 members of the public to find out how they felt about items they bought in 2020’s Black Friday sales and found that the majority who bought something regretted their purchases.
Shoppers are often bombarded with Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) schemes, such as Klarna and Clearpay at the checkout. BNPL firms have partnered with a number of high street and online retailers to allow customers to spread the cost of their shopping interest-free. However, there are concerns that these schemes could encourage consumers to spend more, taking on payments they can’t afford to repay, and that the current lack of regulation could lead to repercussions for people’s credit scores.
2. Do research to make sure you have the best price
Don’t assume a deal is worth it just because it claims to offer a big saving. Offers such as ‘was £100, now £50’ often exaggerate the discount you’re actually getting. Which? looked at products on special offer across major retailers and found that several items were actually listed at their lower price for longer than they were at their full price over the course of a year.
It is worth keeping a note of the price of the item you’re interested in, in advance of the sale – to make sure you’re getting a genuine bargain. There are useful web tools you can use to check how much a product has actually been sold for previously so you can work out whether the ‘sale’ price really represents good value. For example, CamelCamelCamel provides price history for products sold on Amazon, whereas PriceRunner has wider market coverage.
3. Find out whether retailers will match prices
Some retailers will match prices on Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Some, including Currys, will match almost any price you see (its full terms are here). Most shops don’t have price-matching policies, but they may agree to refund the difference if you challenge them about a price drop soon after you’ve bought something.
4. Make a list of different retailers selling the same product
The rush in activity on Black Friday and Cyber Monday can cause websites to crash and retailers to run out of stock. If this happens while you’re trying to buy a product, having a pre-prepared list of stockists will mean you can try others so you don’t miss out.
5. Set up online accounts in advance
Open online accounts with your favourite retailers, pre-enter your payment and shipping details and save them to your account so you can complete purchases quickly once deals are live. It’s also worth signing up for your favourite retailers’ newsletters and following them on social media as this may give you early access to deals.
6. Create a wishlist
Some websites let you set up a wishlist for all the things you want to buy. Having a pre-created list makes it easier to see when prices drop, which can be especially useful on Black Friday when big websites will be flooded with deals on things you don’t want. Rather than trawling through every product on sale, you can click into your list to see whether anything you have your eye on is on offer.
7. Earn as you spend
Shoppers can claim cashback on their purchases via sites such as Quidco and TopCashback. Retailers may offer cashback as a fixed amount (up to £50 on fridges, for example) or a percentage of the purchase – anything from 0.5 to more than 20 per cent. However, be aware that you’ll need to use the cashback site’s link for your purchase to be counted. What’s more, cashback is not guaranteed, and could take months to reach your account. It’s still important to compare upfront costs first, as even the most generous cashback offers may not compensate for a high headline price. Cashback is an added bonus if you’re set on buying an item anyway.
8. Start your Black Friday shopping early
If you’re waiting for Black Friday itself to search for bargains, remember the best deals are likely to be snapped up quickly – especially big-ticket items – and some products may already have sold out. Keep an eye out for deals throughout the week, and check Which?’s Black Friday insider’s guide to find out the pick of the genuine bargains as they’re announced.
9. Save on delivery fees by ordering to a store
Shoppers who don’t want to brave the high street on Black Friday and Cyber Monday can order items to a local store to collect at a quieter time. Shopping in this way can also help you save on delivery fees – as many retailers do not charge for collections.
10. Check the returns policy
For online shopping, the Consumer Contracts Regulations give you 14 days from when you receive most purchases to decide whether to keep them or return them for a full purchase price refund. You then have a further 14 days to send the items back. There are exceptions, including personalised items and products bought from some non-UK sites. Even where the regulations apply, you may not get delivery charges refunded and returns may not be free.
If an item is faulty or not as described, under the Consumer Rights Act you’re entitled to a full refund within 30 days of receipt, including delivery or return costs. Use Which?’s Faulty Goods Tool if you’re unsure of your rights.
Reena Sewraz, Which? Money Expert, said:
“No matter what you are in the market for this Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there are ways to keep costs down and even earn money as you shop.
“Take time to identify the products you really want and check that the ‘deal’ you’re seeing represents a genuine saving. That way, you can beat the hype and be confident that you’ll emerge from the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales with quality products that will last for years to come – and all for a bargain price.”
Notes to editors
- Over the coming months, Which? is highlighting free and useful money-saving advice every Monday to help consumers manage the ongoing cost of living crisis.
- How to avoid fake Black Friday deals
- Top 15 shopping tips for Black Friday
- Free Which? advice to help through the cost-of-living crisis
Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.
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