Nearly all Black Friday ‘deals’ are cheaper or available for the same price at other times of the year, a new Which? investigation has found, as the consumer champion urges shoppers to do their research before buying.
Which? tracked the prices of 83 products on sale on Black Friday (23 November) in 2018 for a year, from six months before the retail bonanza until six months after.
The consumer champion looked at deals from retailers including Currys PC World, Amazon and John Lewis, and found just four (5%) products that were cheaper on Black Friday than at other times of the year.
Which? found that six in 10 (61%) of the products on offer – which included speakers, soundbars and kitchen appliances – were cheaper or the same price on at least one day in the six months before the annual sales event in November last year.
When looking at the two-week period surrounding Black Friday itself – including sales prices in the week before and after – Which? found that three quarters (74%) of products were cheaper or the same price in the six months after.
While Which? did not find evidence that any of the retailers were breaking the law, the consumer champion is concerned that shoppers are at risk of being confused by Black Friday offers that might not be as good as they sound.
Which? is urging shoppers to not get carried away by the hype of Black Friday sales and to do their research to assess whether the price and quality of the product they are considering makes it the right deal for them.
Examples of Black Friday ‘deals’:
- The Samsung HW-MS650 soundbar was £299 at Currys PC World on Black Friday, but within a month the price dropped by £49 for at least five days. What’s more, it was £279.97 at least 13 times in the six months after Black Friday.
- The De’Longhi Autentica Cappucino Bean-to-Cup coffee machine was priced at £399 by John Lewis on Black Friday. It was cheaper on at least 64 days in the six months after, including being priced at £368 on at least 35 occasions.
- The Amazon Echo (2nd Gen) (Smart speaker with Alexa – charcoal fabric) was on offer at £54.99 (39% off) on Amazon but it was cheaper on at least 13 occasions before Black Friday.
- The Indesit IDC8T3B tumble dryer from Currys PC World was £20 cheaper than its ‘sale price’ of £199 just two weeks before Black Friday.
Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services, said:
“We have repeatedly shown that ‘deals’ touted by retailers on Black Friday are not as good as they seem. Time-limited sales can be a good opportunity to bag a bargain, but don’t fall for the pressure tactics around Black Friday.
“Our investigation indicates that this popular shopping event is all hype and there are few genuine discounts.”
Advice from Which? for shopping 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.
- Find out about offers in advance – Sign up to your favourite retailers’ newsletters for inside tips, or check their social media pages ahead of the sales for any clues or hints to what will be on offer.
- 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.
- Don’t always trust reviews you find online – Our recent investigation revealed how shoppers are being misled by unscrupulous sellers using fake online product reviews.
- Use Which? – Experts will be scrutinising the Black Friday sales to pick the deals that really are worth a look. Check which.co.uk/blackfriday for a pick of the best bargains out there, as well as the duds to avoid.
If you do want to avoid disappointment and potentially bag a bargain on Black Friday, you can see our expert pick of deals worth a look at which.co.uk/blackfriday.
Which? reviews are different from the rest – all the products we review and recommend are put through rigorous independent lab tests. Which? tests harder so you can buy smarter. Find out more by visiting: which.co.uk.
- Which? analysed the prices of 83 tech, home and personal products that were on offer on Black Friday last year, compared to their prices in the six months before and after.
Rights of reply
- Amazon said: “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.”
- A Currys PC World spokesperson said: “We’re here to give our customers the very best value throughout the year with sales and price-matching to help make exciting technology affordable and accessible. ‘Our customers tell us that they appreciate the increased choice during Black Friday where we have the most deals on at once. When we launched our Black Friday event last year 40% of those products were the lowest price they had ever been.”
- John Lewis said: “As a participating retailer in Black Friday, we offer hundreds of deals across technology, home, beauty and fashion. In addition to the variety of offers we have in-store and online during the Black Friday period, our commitment to being Never Knowingly Undersold means that we continuously monitor and match the prices of our high street competitors throughout the year. As such, we offer our customers the best value on the high street all year round, including during the Black Friday period.”