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Don’t be conned by Black Friday ‘offers’, consumer group warns

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26/11/2019
Shoppers risk being duped on Black Friday after an investigation found nearly all ‘deals’ are not as good as they seem.

Consumer group Which? said just one in 20 ‘promotions’ are cheaper on Black Friday than at other times of the year.

It tracked the prices of 83 products from retailers including Currys PC World, Amazon and John Lewis on sale on Black Friday in 2018 for a year, from six months before the retail bonanza until six months after.

Just four products were cheaper on Black Friday.

Six in 10 of the products on offer – which included speakers, soundbars and kitchen appliances – were cheaper or the same price on at least one day in the six months before the annual sales event in November last year.

And when looking at the two-week period surrounding Black Friday itself – including sales prices in the week before and after – three quarters of products were cheaper or the same price in the six months after.

Examples of Black Friday ‘deals’:

  • The Samsung HW-MS650 soundbar was £299 at Currys PC World on Black Friday, but within a month the price dropped by £49 for at least five days. What’s more, it was £279.97 at least 13 times in the six months after Black Friday.
  • The De’Longhi Autentica Cappucino Bean-to-Cup coffee machine was priced at £399 by John Lewis on Black Friday. It was cheaper on at least 64 days in the six months after, including being priced at £368 on at least 35 occasions.
  • The Amazon Echo (2nd Gen) (Smart speaker with Alexa – charcoal fabric) was on offer at £54.99 (39% off) on Amazon but it was cheaper on at least 13 occasions before Black Friday.
  • The Indesit IDC8T3B tumble dryer from Currys PC World was £20 cheaper than its ‘sale price’ of £199 just two weeks before Black Friday.

While Which? did not find evidence that any of the retailers were breaking the law, the consumer group is concerned that shoppers are at risk of being confused by Black Friday offers that might not be as good as they sound.

It is urging shoppers to not get carried away this Black Friday, which falls on 29 November.

Natalie Hitchins, head of home products and services at Which?, 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 retailers say

An Amazon spokesperson said: “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: “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.”

A John Lewis spokesperson 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 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.”

Tips for shopping the Black Friday sales

  • Don’t impulse buy – Work out what you need or want to buy and how much you’re prepared to spend before you start shopping in the sales.
  • Don’t panic – Don’t worry about missing out on a good offer as our research has revealed that you could be better off waiting until after Black Friday anyway.
  • Find out about offers in advance – Sign up to your favourite retailers’ newsletters for inside tips, or check their social media pages ahead of the sales for any clues or hints to what will be on offer.
  • Do your research – Look at the price on previous days, using sites such as PriceRunner, to make sure you really are getting a good deal.
  • Don’t always trust reviews you find online – Our recent investigation revealed how shoppers are being misled by unscrupulous sellers using fake online product reviews.

 

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