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Black Friday ‘bargains’ exposed as overpriced

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Written by: Emma Lunn
24/11/2020
A study by Which? found that nearly nine in 10 Black Friday ‘deals’ were the same price or cheaper before Black Friday.

The consumer champion tracked the prices of 219 popular products advertised as ‘Black Friday deals’ across Amazon, AO.com, Argos, Currys PC World and John Lewis. It found that almost nine in 10 (85%) of these so-called ‘deals’ were actually cheaper or the same price in the six months before.

When Which? compared a year’s worth of prices for these products, which included home and tech goods such as headphones, fridge freezers and soundbars, only three (1%) out of the 219 items tracked were at their cheapest price of the year on Black Friday.

Out of the retailers Which? looked at, Currys PC World was the most likely to have its Black Friday ‘deals’ cheaper or the same price in the six months before. This was the case for 47 out of 49 (96%) products.

John Lewis was not far behind with 70 of the 78 (90%) Black Friday deals Which? tracked cheaper or the same price ahead of time.

Currys PC World had a set of Bose Quietcomfort headphones priced at £249 on Black Friday, but the headphones had been cheaper or the same price on at least 15 occasions in the six months prior.

A De’Longhi Primadonna Coffee Machine at John Lewis costs £1,285 in the Black Friday sale, but cost just £1,200 on several days in May and June 2019.

Which? also found that at AO a Zanussi fridge freezer was £549 on Black Friday but had been sold at that price on 153 days in the six months before Black Friday – 84% of the time.

While many of the items tracked by Which? had been cheaper or the same price in the six months before Black Friday, price drops were even more widespread after the day itself.

This applied to almost every single product from AO, Argos, Currys PC World and John Lewis included in the analysis and nine in 10 (90%) of the products Which? tracked on Amazon.

However, Which? did uncover a few great deals. If found some Bose Soundsport headphones on Amazon that were on sale at £45 on Black Friday 2019, half the maximum price of £90.

It also found a Shark Handheld Vacuum cleaner for sale at £97 on Amazon on Black Friday 2019, the cheapest price of the year and nearly 50% cheaper than the maximum price of £180.

Which?’s research shows that while a handful of offers might be genuine, the vast majority of Black Friday deals are not necessarily cheaper than at other times of the year – and those who hold out a little longer will often end up paying the same price or even less.

Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: “With many of us stuck at home this Black Friday it might be tempting to scour the sales for a bargain, but we’ve found that you could get the same deal – or an even better one – at another time.”

“Deals that look too good to be true often are, so don’t fall for time-limited offers and if you are looking for something in particular, do some research first. That way you’ll know a genuine bargain when you see one.”

A statement from Amazon said: “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.”

A Currys PC World spokesperson said: “We have 1000s of deals in Black Friday every year, and aim to give our customers the best value with over 45% at their lowest price ever this year. Throughout the year we are also continuously price-matching and have additional sales to ensure we keep our promise of amazing tech that is affordable and accessible.

“Also as we are constantly looking to bring customers the latest and most innovative tech it means over time some of our older products will generally reduce in price as they are replaced by newer technology with improved features.”

John Lewis said: “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 instore and online during the promotional period, our Never Knowingly Undersold price promise 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.”

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