Most UK Black Friday ‘deals’ cheaper at other times of the year, says consumer group

  • Borrowed from the US, Britain’s two-week long pre-Christmas event has become a US$12 billion shopping extravaganza
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2018, 9:05pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2018, 9:05pm

Shoppers are being warned to do their research before Black Friday after it emerged that nearly nine in 10 “deals” available last year were even cheaper at other times.

Consumer group Which? tracked the prices of 94 popular products, including televisions, cameras and fitness trackers, on offer over Black Friday 2017 from six months before until six months afterwards. It found 87 per cent of the items were cheaper at other times of year and nearly half were cheaper in the six months after Black Friday.

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“The results of our investigation will disappoint many who are expecting nothing but bargains this Black Friday,” said Alex Neill, managing director of home products and services at Which? “While retailers are bombarding us with promises of great discounts and time-limited sales, it’s clear that not all deals are as good as they might appear. To bag a bargain, do your research and don’t get carried away by the hype when shopping in the upcoming sales.”

Black Friday, a day of pre-Christmas discounting borrowed from the US, is officially on November 23, but several major retailers including Amazon, Argos and Currys PC World have already begun their sales campaigns. Although some chains, including Marks & Spencer and Asda, have stepped down their involvement in recent years, Black Friday has become a near fortnight-long £10 billion (US$12.8 billion) shopping extravaganza, largely online.

Do your research and don’t get carried away by the hype
Alex Neill, Which?

Online transactions are expected to rise by 4 per cent for this year’s Black Friday, although that is a lower pace of growth than recorded last year amid signs that shoppers are becoming wary that “bargains” offered may not be as attractive as they look.

Which? analysed deals at leading retailers Currys PC World, Amazon, John Lewis and Argos. It found a 60-inch 4K LG television, advertised at £799 by Amazon on Black Friday, was £50 cheaper on at least 62 occasions after Black Friday and dropped a further £150 for at least four days at the end of December and beginning of January.

A Sony Cyber-shot HX60B Superzoom compact camera was advertised as £189 (a £10 saving) on Black Friday by Currys PC World, was found to be £10 cheaper at least 27 times in June and July 2017 and £10 or more cheaper at least 43 times in the six months following Black Friday.

Amazon told Which?: “We offer many thousands of incredible deals around Black Friday representing millions of pounds of savings for our customers across a vast selection of products.”

Currys PC World said it told shoppers exactly when a product was available for a higher price: “While our prices – like all retailers – can fluctuate throughout the year, we’re proud to offer our price promise across our entire range – and this covers the Black Friday trading period.”

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A John Lewis spokesperson said prices were matched throughout the year as part of its “never knowingly undersold” commitment under which it matches competitors’ prices throughout the year.

An Argos spokesperson said: “During Black Friday our customers benefit from a huge range of deals on a wide range of products, all at the same time. This does not exclude these products from other promotions.”