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27 October 2020

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
ES
Ellie Simmonds

Follow our expert tips to ensure you pay the lowest prices for the best products this Black Friday.

1. Research the products you want beforehand

It's no use grabbing a bargain if the product's no good. Sales season often sees shoppers battling over items we wouldn't recommend at all. In 2016, 18% of 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, so use our reviews to find out which products are best for you and your budget. 

  • Download the Which? reviews app to find out whether the product you're looking at is a dud or a delight.

2. 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 is a reason why some are household names and some only ever crop up in a sale. The odds are, if we haven't reviewed devices from a certain brand then they aren't worth buying.

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

Most technology, including smartphones, TVs and tablets, is released 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. 

4. Research your favourite products' price history

There are useful web tools you can use to check how much a product has actually been sold for previously so you can work out whether the 'sale' price really represents good value.

CamelCamelCamel, for example, provides price history for products sold on Amazon, whereas PriceRunner has wider market coverage.

5. 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.

6. Find out whether retailers will match prices

Some retailers will match prices on Black Friday deals (although brands with high street stores such as John Lewis & Partners may exclude online-only retailers such as Amazon or AO.com from their price promises).

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

7. Set up online accounts in advance

It's not unheard of for websites to slow to a crawl on Black Friday and for popular deals to sell out quickly, so you'll want to get in and out as swiftly as possible. 

Open online accounts with your favourite retailers, pre-enter your payment and shipping details, and save them to your account so you can complete purchases quickly once deals are live.

It's also worth signing up to your favourite retailers’ newsletters and following them on social media as this may give you early access to deals.

Find out more: best and worst online shops

8. Create a wishlist

Some websites let you set up a wishlist for all the things you want to buy. 

Having a pre-created list makes it easier to see when prices drop, which can be especially useful on Black Friday when big websites will be flooded with deals on things you don't want: rather than trawling through every product on sale, you can click into your list to see whether anything you have your eye on is on offer.

9. Start your Black Friday shopping early

In recent years, many retailers have launched deals a week or two before Black Friday and this year some retailers are running promotions through the whole of November.

If you're planning on hitting the high street on Black Friday itself, remember the best deals are likely to be snapped up quickly - especially big-ticket items. 

Make a note of opening times for different shops on Black Friday, as they may let you in earlier than usual, and plan which shops you want to visit in order of priority.

Also, this year it's important to keep local social distancing guidelines in mind. If crowds like the one pictured below turn up in person, retailers' restrictions might mean queuing before you get in.  

10. Earn as you spend

If you're splashing out on a big purchase (or several), check whether you could be getting something back in the process. 

Cashback sites Quidco and Topcashback both offer deals at more than 4,000 retailers - and it's free to sign up. But don’t let the lure of cashback lead you towards a poor-value product. Think of it as a bonus, rather than using it as your starting point for deciding what to buy and where from.

An easy way to boost your cashback is to pay with a credit card that rewards you for your spending, whether that's in air miles, retail vouchers or money off your credit card statement. Remember to pay the balance off in full each month to avoid interest charges. 

11. Shopping in store on Black Friday? Use your phone, too

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 on your smartphone you can be in Currys/PC World and on Amazon at the same time. Having access to websites means you can reference prices to make sure you're getting the best deal in store.

Don't forget that you can use the Which? reviews app on Android and iOS devices to quickly look up product reviews, too. If you're not a member, you can join Which? for full access to the app.

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

Don't assume a deal is worth it just because it claims to offer a big saving. 

Offers such as ‘was £100, now £50’ often exaggerate the discount you're actually getting. We found 13% of sale shoppers in 2017 didn't research the prices of their products at other retailers before buying.

13. Check the returns policy

If you've bought in store, 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.

Buying online gives you more rights: you have 14 days from the date of delivery to cancel an order and a further 14 days to return it for a full refund. You should also get the original standard postal costs back.

Many shops offer extended returns periods in the run up to Christmas - handy if you're buying a gift. Check whether the policies entitles you to the actual money back or just a store credit/exchange.

14. Consider buying online and picking up later

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

Shopping in this way can also help you save on delivery fees.

15. Don't forget about Cyber Monday

Historically, Black Friday was for hitting the high street and Cyber Monday was for online 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 keep checking over the weekend and on Monday to see more deals.