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Black Friday Deals

Top 15 shopping tips for Black Friday deals

By Ellie Simmonds

Article 2 of 9

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Top 15 shopping tips for Black Friday deals

Tempted to pick up some Black Friday deals this year? These 15 tips will help you stay ahead of the mayhem and shop like a pro.

Before you plunge into the pandemonium of Black Friday, use expert advice to get ahead of the game.

Bargains trigger the pleasure centres of our brains. After all, buying things is fun. But the elation of getting what looks like a great price on something nice can quickly sour if you get it home and it's not at all what you expected, or needed.

Our top Black Friday tips for savvy shopping will give you the advantage over the crowds. Whether you’re heading out on foot or taking on the Black Friday frenzy from behind the safety of your computer screen, we’ll make sure you’re as prepared as possible.

1. Preparation is the key to Black Friday

If you know what's going to be on sale beforehand, it's easier to check if it's a good offer or not. Sign up for your favourite retailers’ newsletters, ‘like’ their Facebook pages and register for Twitter alerts, as they’ll be keen to publicise their best deals.

2. Find out whether retailers will match prices

Some retailers, such as John Lewis, will match prices on Black Friday deals (but usually not with online-only stores, such as Amazon or AO.com). This means that you can do most of your shopping with just one retailer, which can make life a lot easier.

Most other shops don't have price-matching policies, but may agree to refund the difference if you challenge them about a price drop soon after you’ve bought something.

3. Sign up for online accounts with the biggest retailers a few days in advance

Make sure you’re signed in to your account before you start shopping. Consider pre-entering your payment details and shipping details and saving them to your account so you can complete your purchases more quickly.

Last year, the increased traffic meant many websites slowed to a crawl on Black Friday, so you'll want to get in and out as quickly as possible.

4. Research the products you want beforehand

It's no use grabbing a bargain if the product's no good. In previous years we've seen shoppers nearly coming to blows over items we wouldn't bother putting on our own shopping lists. Nearly one in five (18%) of 2016 Black Friday shoppers didn't read any reviews of the products they bought beforehand.

It pays to do your research. We've got lab test results for thousands of products on our website, so use our reviews to find out which products are best for you and your budget. 

We've compiled lists of the top TVs, laptops and other tech products to look out for and the top coffee machines, vacuums and other home products to look out for on Black Friday, as well as the products we'd suggest you avoid.

5. Research prices online before hitting the shops

There are useful web tools you can use to check how much a product has actually been sold for previously. 

CamelCamelCamel, for example, provides price history for products sold on Amazon. 

Which? can show you how the price of an item has changed over time, and whether we think the current price is likely to go up, down or stay the same based on past prices. Click the ‘Where to buy’ tab on a product review to access this price predictor feature – it’s currently available on some of our most popular product categories, including washing machines and TVs, and we’ll add more in the near future. Read our guide on how to use Price Predictor to save on your purchases.

6. Be wary of unusual brands

Samsung and Sony are known for their TVs, but what about Polaroid and Blaupunkt? Dirt cheap deals are everywhere on Black Friday, but just because a TV has 4K and HDR plastered on the box doesn't mean it's going to have as good a picture as a Best Buy model.

We're not saying every brand you've never heard of is bad, but there's a reason why some are household names and some you only ever see crop up in a sale. Odds are, if we haven't reviewed the devices from a certain brand then they aren't worth buying.

7. If you're shopping for tech, know the lifecycles

Most technology, including smartphones, TVs and tablets, is on a one-year cycle, so you only need to wait 12 months before there's a shiny new device to get excited about.

Big tech companies will do their best to tempt you into buying their latest release, but the forgotten device celebrating its first birthday could still be more than adequate, and it's also far more likely to be on sale.

8. Make a list of different retailers selling the same product

The rush in activity on Black Friday can cause websites to crash and retailers to run out of stock. If this happens while you're trying to buy a product, having a pre-prepared list of stockists will mean you can try others so you don’t miss out on the best deals.

9. Create a wishlist

Websites, such as Amazon, let you set up a wishlist where you can add all the things you want to buy. Having everything in a list makes it easy to see when the price drops and this especially useful on Black Friday when big websites will be flooded with deals for things you don't want.

Rather than trawling through everything you can click in to your list and immediately see what's on offer.

10. Check whether retailers will let you buy online and pick up later

Some retailers, such as Argos, will hold your product for seven days. This means you can go and collect it after the Black Friday shopping crowds have dispersed and avoid paying delivery fees.

11. Start your Black Friday shopping early - really early

Although high street shops might not open their doors until after breakfast, websites never close. Take advantage by checking Black Friday deals at the stroke of midnight.

Some shops will be offering deals starting a week or so before Black Friday, so you might not even need to wait for the day.

If you're planning on hitting the high street on Black Friday, remember the best deals are likely to be snapped up the quickest - especially big-ticket items. Make a note of opening times for different shops on Black Friday (they may open earlier than usual). Plan which shops you want to visit, in order of priority.

12. But don't forget about Cyber Monday

Historically, Black Friday was all about hitting the high street and Cyber Monday was when you could go online for some top deals. Now, more money is spent on the internet than in store on Black Friday, but that doesn't mean you should ignore Cyber Monday.

Some retailers, particularly those focused on computing, will have deals on laptops, desktop PCs, printers and more. If you didn't get the product you wanted on Black Friday then don't be disheartened, keep checking over the weekend and on Monday to see more deals.

13. Use your smartphone

We've all got one, so use it. If you're planning on braving the high street this Black Friday that doesn't mean you need to neglect the online stores. As long as you have a data connection you can be on amazon.co.uk and in Currys at the same time. Having access to websites means you can reference prices to make sure you're getting the best deal in store.

You can use the Which? reviews app on Android and iOS devices to quickly look up product reviews too.

14. Check the returns policy

Just in case your Black Friday purchase turns out to be something you regret buying by the next day, double-check what the retailer's returns policy is for Black Friday items before you buy. You can only return non-faulty goods for an exchange or refund if the retailer has a returns policy - almost all shops do, but they're not required to by law.

If what you've bought is faulty, that's a different matter. You have 30 days to reject it and get your money back. Find out more about your rights on Black Friday deals.

15. Look at the price, not the 'saving'

Don't assume a deal is worth it just because it has a big, attention-grabbing saving. Offers like ‘was £100, now £50’, in our experience, exaggerate the discount you're actually getting. We found 12% of Black Friday shoppers in 2016 didn't research the previous prices of their products before buying. Find out how to check if a Black Friday deal is real.