Nine in 10 (92%) Black Friday ‘deals’ are the same price or cheaper in the six months ahead of the big event, a Which? investigation has found.
The consumer champion analysed 201 of last year’s Black Friday deals at six major retailers – Amazon, AO, Argos, Currys, John Lewis and Richer Sounds – looking at their prices every day during the six months before and after Black Friday as well as on the day itself.
A huge 184 of the products, which included popular items such as washing machines, soundbars and TVs, were the same price or cheaper in the six months prior to Black Friday. Only 17 of the deals did not fall into this category.
With Black Friday just days away, Which? is advising shoppers to do some research to help them hunt down the minority of deals that really are a bargain and emerge from the mammoth sales event with high-quality products at a reasonable price.
Consumers could have had a challenge finding a decent deal at Currys last year, given every one of the 32 products Which?’s experts looked at from the retailer’s Black Friday sales had been an equal price or cheaper in the previous six months.
One of the worst individual deals Which? came across was a Zanussi ZWF81441W washing machine at John Lewis that was cheaper than its Black Friday price on 88 different days before the day itself. ‘Discounted’ to £309 on Black Friday, customers could have bought it £60 cheaper at £249 five months before and for £289 within just a month after.
Another dubious ‘deal’ was a Bush BRC100DHEB 100cm Dual Fuel Range Cooker sold at Argos for £449.99 (was £499.99) but it was actually the same price 66 times before and 19 times after Black Friday.
Out of the retailers analysed, Richer Sounds had the highest proportion of deals, four out of 14, that were not cheaper or the same price before Black Friday – still not hugely impressive.
When looking at prices six months before and after Black Friday 2020, just one of the 201 products was at its cheapest price on Black Friday alone.
Many shoppers do not do any research before they splash their cash on Black Friday, which leaves them at greater risk of falling for dud deals. Which? survey research shows four in 10 (39%) of those buying baby and child products last year did little or no research on price, while for home appliances this was the case for three in 10 (28%) and for tech products it was one in five (18%).
Which?’s survey also found that a lot of shoppers had not read reviews of products before buying them. A third (33%) of those buying baby and child products last Black Friday did little or no research on reviews of the products before buying. For those buying home appliances a quarter (26%) were in this position and for tech products it was one in five (22%).
Which?’s pricing investigation also found that, when looking at the six months after Black Friday, almost all (98.5%) of the products across the six retailers were cheaper or the same price at some point during this period – suggesting that in some cases shoppers may be better off biding their time and waiting for the price of a product to fall further.
Which? believes retailers should always make sure the discounts they quote are truly genuine.
Consumers are advised not to feel pressured to rush into making a purchase. They should look to get Black Friday bargains that are the real deal this winter and choose products that are high-quality and built to last.
Ele Clark, Which? Retail Editor, said:
“Our latest investigation has shown that the vast majority of Black Friday deals are not as good as they appear to be, which is why it’s so important to do your research before diving into the sales.
“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 sales with quality products that will last for years to come – and all for a bargain price.”
Notes to editors
Black Friday advice
How to buy better this Black Friday: The Which? insider’s guide
Which? tracked the prices of 201 popular home, tech and baby and child products over the course of a year, for six months before Black Friday 2020 and six months after.
Opinium on behalf of Which? surveyed 2000 UK adults online, between 7th and 10th September 2021, about their experiences with Black Friday shopping. Data were weighted to be nationally representative.
Some retailers told Which? that Black Friday offers stretch across several days, or even weeks, not just the day itself. However Which? also looked at a longer two-week period, from Nov 23 to Dec 4, 2020, and still found 92 per cent of products were cheaper than or equal to their sales period prices at other times of the year.
Example ‘deals’ from last year’s Black Friday:
The Maxi-Cosi Titan Toddler/Child Car Seat Group 1-2-3 at Amazon.co.uk was on a Black Friday deal price of £139.95 (down from £199) but it was actually cheaper on three days in the six months before Black Friday and 38 days in the six months afterwards. It was £127.99 less than three weeks before Black Friday, before going up to £159.20 and back down again for the so-called Black Friday ‘deal’.
The Morphy Richards 162008 Pour Over Filter Coffee Maker was on a deal of £41.99 at Amazon (was £54.99) but it was actually cheaper than the Black Friday price 21 times in the six months before Black Friday and the same price 45 times afterwards
The Samsung QLED QE65Q700TA 65″ Smart 8K TV at AO was on offer on Black Friday at £1,999 (reduced from £2,299). But it was actually cheaper 136 times after Black Friday, including going down by £200 to £1,799 less than a month later.
The NUMATIC Henry HVR160 Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner was on a deal for £99 (was £139) at Currys but it was actually the same price 53 times before and 81 times after.
The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 Bluetooth Waterproof Portable Speaker was on a Black Friday deal of £69.99 (was £89.99) from John Lewis but it was actually the same price 79 times in the six months before Black Friday and cheaper or the same price 118 times in the six months after.
The LG SL5Y Bluetooth Sound Bar was on a Black Friday deal of £199 at John Lewis (was £249) but it was actually the same price 79 times before Black Friday and 87 times after.
The Yamaha MusicCast 20 WX021 at Richer Sounds was £159 on Black Friday, with an RRP of £199 and a logo saying ‘Save £40’. But it was the same price or cheaper on 277 other days in the six months before and after Black Friday. Also, it had not actually been on sale at £199 at Richer Sounds since November 2018, two years prior.
Which?’s top tips for shopping in the Black Friday sales
Don’t impulse buy – Work out what you need or want to buy and how much you’re prepared to spend before you start shopping in the sales.
Don’t panic – Don’t worry about missing out on a good offer as our research has revealed that you could be better off waiting until after Black Friday anyway.
Do your research – Look at the price on previous days, using sites such as PriceRunner, to make sure you really are getting a good deal.
Be careful with reviews – It’s always worth checking product reviews before choosing what to buy, but make sure you use a trusted source such as Which? to avoid being caught out by fake reviews.
Don’t be afraid to hit the shops – As long as you have a data connection on your smartphone you can be in Currys and on Amazon at the same time. Having access to websites means you can reference prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal in store.
Know your rights – For those buying in store, check the returns policy as these vary. Buying online gives consumers more rights: depending on the goods they buy, they usually have 14 days from the date of delivery to cancel an order and a further 14 days to return it for a refund.
Use Which? – Experts will be scrutinising the Black Friday sales to pick the deals that really are worth a look. Check Which? for a pick of the best bargains out there, as well as the duds to avoid.
Rights of reply
“We seek to offer our customers great value thanks to low prices all year round as well as a number of fantastic seasonal deals events. Our Black Friday Sale is about thousands of deals on a huge selection of products from every category across the site, at a time of year when we know saving money is important to our customers. And the best thing about shopping online is that customers can easily compare prices, allowing them to make an informed purchase decision.”
“It was only less than 10 years ago that customers paid full price until after Christmas, but Black Friday now brings them lower prices when they need them. Customers can get deals all year round at AO and Black Friday is the biggest opportunity to get genuine, great value deals alongside our year-round price match guarantee.”
An Argos spokesperson said: “We’re committed to offering our customers a wide range of products at great prices throughout the year and our Black Friday deals are no exception.”
“At Currys we pride ourselves on offering great prices all year round, particularly during the Black Friday period. In 2020 over 98% of our Black Friday promoted products were equal to or at their cheapest price from the previous 6 months and 54% of our products were at their lowest ever price. Black Friday represents one of the best times for customers to shop with us over the year. With our unique price promise, we won’t be beaten on price. Full stop. This applies even during the Black Friday period.”
“As a participating retailer in Black Friday, we offer fantastic deals across technology, home, beauty and fashion – these are just some of the many promotions our customers can take advantage of throughout the year. The offers you refer to occur as part of our Never Knowingly Undersold price promise, where we match high street competitors and continuously monitor prices to offer great value all year round.
“On The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 Bluetooth Waterproof Portable Speaker – our Black Friday promotion started on the 20th November and continued until 12th January – so those days were actually all part of the Black Friday promotional activity.”
“You’re absolutely right. Prices fluctuate pretty wildly in our industry, both up and down for all sorts of reasons, but primarily availability from suppliers and the prices we have to pay to our suppliers. So, this can mean that products (annoyingly for all) may be sold in the following Black Friday promotion at prices that are higher than during the preceding year but rest assured that all the deals that we sell are at the keenest prices possible at the time of the Black Friday ‘event’ (which, please note, starts several days before the day itself).
“RE Yamaha MusicCast: We’ve gone back through our records and can see that this WAS included in our Black Friday promotion last year by mistake so you are absolutely correct in picking this up.
“With the best will in the world, and we really do try our best, inevitably mistakes do occur but thankfully your members repeatedly confirm how hard our wonderful colleagues do try to please them.
“We did make a mistake here so we’d like to apologise to any of our customers who were misled by this and welcome them contacting us so we can make it up to them.”
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