Whether you’re in the market for a new TV, soundbar or tumble dryer, Black Friday is rarely the best time to find a bargain, according to our latest snapshot investigation.
Which? tracked a range of popular products included in last year’s Black Friday sales and found that 95% were available cheaper or the same price from the same retailer at least once in the six months that followed.
And while it might be expected that some products drop in price over time as newer models are released, 61% of the items we looked at were cheaper or the same price at least once before the Black Friday sales period, too.
Deal or no deal? Our experts have tracked down the Black Friday 2019 deals that are actually worth a look.
Is Black Friday worth the hype?
We crunched the numbers for 83 products that were on offer on Black Friday 2018 (49 from Currys PC World, 20 from Amazon, 12 from John Lewis and two from Boots), and compared their Black Friday prices with the six months before and after the sales.
Around half of all the products we looked at (48%) were sold at lower prices after Black Friday, and a further 47% were available for the same price.
Just four out of 83 products were at their cheapest price on Black Friday when compared with the six months before and after.
- Find out more: how to check if a Black Friday deal is real
The retailers with the fewest real deals
The worst retailer we looked at when it came to pre-Black Friday pricing was Currys PC World, with 83% of the products it advertised as part of its Black Friday promotion having been cheaper or the same price at least once in the six months before the sale.
And 100% of the Amazon items we looked at were the same price or cheaper at least once in the six months after Black Friday.
Of course, consistently low prices are not a bad thing – but they do mean you should feel less pressured to buy on Black Friday. Take any offers described as ‘time-limited’ with a pinch of salt, as chances are it won’t be the last opportunity you get to buy at that price.
- Find out more: top 15 Black Friday shopping tips
The worst Black Friday deals
We found six products that were cheaper than their Black Friday price both before and after the sale day, including two cameras, a freezer, a soundbar and a tumble dryer.
Last Black Friday, this Samsung soundbar cost £299 at Currys/PC World.
Less than a month later, the price dropped to £250 for at least five days. In the six months following Black Friday, it was priced at £279.97 on at least 13 occasions.
This tumble dryer was cheaper than its Black Friday price at least 21 times in the six months before the big sale day, and once after the event too.
If you’d bought the IDC8T3B two weeks prior to the Black Friday sale from Currys/PC World, you’d have saved £20 on the £199 ‘deal’ price.
The popular Ultimate Ears Megaboom Portable Bluetooth Wireless Speaker was the same price four times before Black Friday in Currys PC World.
It was cheaper on at least 114 occasions after the day.
‘All hype and few genuine discounts’
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.’
What the shops said
While Black Friday deals aren’t always advertised as being the cheapest price of the year, we were shocked to find that just four of the products we tracked were at their lowest ever price on the sale day. We put our findings to the retailers.
Amazon told us: ‘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 told us: ‘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.’
How to check if a deal is real
While Black Friday discounts can be confusing, there are steps you can take to avoid getting ripped off with a dud deal.
The most important thing is to do your research: sites such as PriceRunner and CamelCamelCamel (Amazon only) show products’ price history, as well as their current prices. And if a retailer is advertising ‘was’ and ‘now’ prices, you should always check the small print to check whether it’s really as good as it sounds.
See how to check if a Black Friday deal is real for our full round-up of expert tips.
- Find out more: our experts share their tips on finding the best Black Friday deals on TVs, laptops and other tech, and coffee machines, vacuums and other home products.