Is Black Friday Worth It?
Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping events of the year for UK consumers, but there are growing concerns about whether it offers real value. Find out if Black Friday deals are worth it and how to spend wisely over this four-day shopping event.
Originating in the US, Black Friday takes place the day after Thanksgiving and marks the start of the Christmas shopping season.
Since its introduction to the UK in 2010 by tech giant and online store Amazon, shoppers across the nation have flocked to retailers in person and online in search of bargains.
This year, Black Friday takes place on Friday 25 November and runs until Monday 28 November, known as Cyber Monday.
Despite the promise of unmissable discounts, there have been growing concerns about whether shoppers are getting real deals during the Black Friday extravaganza.
Research from consumer group Which? revealed that, in 2020, 98% of discounts advertised were available for the same price or cheaper during the six months after the sales. And around 85% of items were the same price or cheaper in the six months leading up to the Black Friday event.
Here, we explore whether you can really find a bargain and how to spend wisely during the long weekend that kicks off on Black Friday.
Is Black Friday worth it?
Ultimately, this will come down to what you are looking for and the available offers. While Black Friday deals may be tempting, experts warn that shoppers could get better discounts at other times of the year.
Tom Church, co-founder of money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk, says: ‘It’s worth remembering that just because it’s Black Friday, it doesn’t mean you’ll get the cheapest price. Most retailers have regular offers and sales throughout the year.”
Although research from Which? suggests that shoppers could be likely to find items cheaper at other times of the year, some experts argue that economic conditions and the cost of living crisis may encourage retailers to be more competitive during Black Friday 2022.
Lina Rojdmark, a spokesperson at designer fashion retailer Accent Clothing, explains: “Due to economic issues, this year may prove to be different as many retailers are competing to sell items at lower prices. With inflation continuing to rise, Black Friday could be an opportunity to grab great bargains and save potentially hundreds of pounds. In light of rising costs this year, we know people want to find the best deals they can.”
Plan ahead and do your research
While shoppers may find discounts, having a list of what you need to buy ahead of the Black Friday weekend, shopping around and comparing prices will help determine whether the deals are worth it.
“It’s always best to shop around for the brands you have your eye on and check out different deals across different websites and in store. Once you’ve compared a couple of options, you’ll have a better chance of spotting the best deal for your budget,” Rojdmark says.
Price tracking websites, such as PriceSpy, camelcamelcamel, and PriceRunner, can help you monitor the cost of items you would like to buy and check their price history to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
If you are using Black Friday as an opportunity to buy big-ticket items, such as kitchen appliances or furniture, you could plan ahead and use a 0% interest credit card, which won't charge any interest for a set period of time. But be sure to budget so you'll pay off the loan before the introductory 0% period ends.
Another way to save money on Black Friday deals is to use cashback sites, such as TopCashback and Quidco, that pay you to spend on selected brands.
Curb your spending enthusiasm
Historically, UK shoppers have splurged during the Black Friday weekend, spending billions on bargains. However, experts warn the event may encourage customers to overspend and could lead to problem debt.
Sue Anderson, a spokesperson at debt charity StepChange, says: “The intense marketing of Black Friday offers at this time of year is impossible to ignore, but it’s important to be aware that these sales are designed to encourage consumers to buy things they may not necessarily need, and leave some shoppers particularly vulnerable to the risk of problem debt.”
While using credit cards, overdrafts or Buy Now, Pay Later schemes to make purchases during Black Friday can help spread the cost of your purchases, consider whether you can afford the repayments before taking on new debt.
“It may seem tempting to use options to Buy Now, Pay Later but that is still a form of credit and while it may be interest free, there can still be serious financial consequences if payments are missed,” says Anderson.
If you’re struggling with debt or concerned about keeping up with repayments, it’s really important to get help as soon as possible. There are many organisations that offer free debt help and support, including debt charities, such as StepChange and National Debtline.
Image source: Getty Images
Brean is a personal finance writer at NerdWallet. She covers a range of financial topics and has written for consumer titles including Which?, Moneywise and The Motley Fool. Read more