Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy.

Black Friday Deals

Black Friday deals: how to check if a Black Friday deal is real

Article 7 of 9

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

Black Friday deals: how to check if a Black Friday deal is real

Don't get duped by dodgy deals this Black Friday. Follow these tips for how to tell if that 'special offer' you've got your eye on is genuine.

The hype around Black Friday creates the impression that every offer is worth trampling over fellow shoppers to get to, with retailers slashing the price to a historically low level for one day only. But we’ve found that few Black Friday deals follow that pattern.

We tracked 178 deals for three months before and two months after Black Friday 2015, and discovered that some 49% were actually cheapest on a day other than Black Friday. Only 8% of the Black Friday deals we looked at were one-day-only offers, where Black Friday was cheaper than any other day in those five months.

Some 92% of the Black Friday shoppers we surveyed in August 2016 reckon they got a good deal on the products they bought last year. But the fact that almost half of the deals we looked at were cheaper on another day suggests that quite a few didn’t end up with the bargain they imagined.

So before you rush headlong into impulse-buying a discounted coffee machine or tablet, read on for our advice on how to work out whether a deal is real.

How to check whether a Black Friday deal is genuine - our top five tips

1. Check the price of the product on offer across multiple shops. This is the most basic check you can do, but our research found that 19% of Black Friday shoppers didn't do this in 2015.

We've often found that more than one shop will sell a product at a similar price, but there's only one that's claiming that the price is a special offer.

For example, if four shops are selling the same washing machine for £250 but only one is claiming it's a special offer at 'Now £250, was £300', it's a pretty good indicator that the price is not a special deal.

Of course, if you're happy to pay £250 for that particular washing machine, that's fine. But don't snap it up on the grounds that you think you're getting an unusually good deal.

2. Check the price history. Use our reviews to make a shortlist of the products you want to look out for in the Black Friday sales, before the day itself. Make a note of the current price at the same time.

By taking note of prices before Black Friday, you can check how any Black Friday discounts compare to the usual recent selling price.

Popular products last year included coffee machines, such as Tassimo and Nespresso machines, blenders such as the Nutribullet, and tablets.

Some sites, such as Pricerunner and CamelCamelCamel, also show graphs of the historic price of products. Pricerunner gives an average across shops, while CamelCamelCamel only shows Amazon prices. The price predictor function in our reviews of washing machines and TVs also show historic prices over the last few weeks.

3. Look our for notes or signs explaining offers. The rules that govern special offers are vague. In some instances, shops can get away with using older 'was' prices if they put up a sign explaining the offer. Tactics like these can make offers look better than they actually are.

We've seen notes that explained the product was actually only at the higher price for a fortnight, six months before the current offer.

We've also seen these notes in many guises. From the relatively explicit to the completely buried - where we've had to scroll through 10 screens of small print in order to uncover some vague wording about the offer.

Technically, the latter isn't allowed. But it doesn't seem to have stopped some shops from deploying this as a technique.

4. Be wary of 'was prices' or RRP comparisons. Offers like ‘was £100, now £50’, in our experience, exaggerate the discount you're actually getting.

Shops are supposed to use the most recent price that the item was sold at for 28 consecutive days or more as the 'was' price. But our research has found many cases where the shop didn’t use the ‘was’ price it should have – and few where it had.

The RRP (recommended retail price) is a manufacturer's price, and any RRPs used are meant to reflect the current market value of that product.

However, we've found instances where the RRP the shop was using to compare the current price against was out of date, so didn't reflect the current value of the product.

It's much better to check against other shops' prices to try and work out the true cost.

5. But do try to find out what the real RRP is. Not all manufacturers have RRPs, but some do and choose to show them on their own websites. If you have a product in mind that you'd like to buy, check the manufacturer's own website to find out what the true price is.

We found a couple of Black Friday 'offers' in 2015 where Argos was selling the product for more than the RRP, despite claiming it was a discount.

How to get the most from the Black Friday sales

Getting the most from the Black Friday sales isn't just about avoiding dodgy special offers. There's no point getting a good deal on a bad product, as you'll end up wasting your money on something that's not right for you. So check out our reviews first so you know what you're looking out for.

To find out the top products that we recommend, you can skip straight to some of the most popular Cyber Monday and Black Friday product categories using the links at the bottom and side of this page.

SHARE THIS PAGE