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Five ways to stop Black Friday becoming Bleak Friday

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Fewer Britons are expected to open their wallets this weekend in the search for savings on Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, with spending dipping to £1.7bn, down by around 15% compared with previous years. But for those bargain-hunting, it’s wise to take some advice in advance.

With the World Cup expected to help raise sales of food, electrical goods and clothing, concerns around the cost-of-living-crisis will dampen overall spending, according to new research from Retail Economics and HotUKDeals. It said budget-wary shoppers were expected to spend an average of £177, down from more than £200 in previous years.

Better-off families were likely to spend around 13% more than the average as a way to hedge on continuing inflation while less-wealthy households were likely to spend about 9% less than the average this year while buying mainly essentials.

With fewer Covid restrictions this season, households were found to be prioritising getting together with family and friends, with 18.7% of Black Friday shoppers saying they planned to spend more on drinks and food at home especially if England advance out of the group stages of the FIFA tournament.

Black Friday ‘a more muted affair’

Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, said: “It’s almost inevitable that Black Friday will be a more muted affair this year as families struggle to make ends meet. The backdrop of rising inflation, escalating interest rates and softer consumer confidence suggests consumers will be holding back their spending as they focus on essentials.

“However, with the outlook for demand looking so challenging, many retailers will be sitting with more stock than they would ideally like. Some retailers could see this as an ideal opportunity to discount more than they’d anticipated, convert stock back into cash and batten down the hatches as they prepare for trading through recession next year.”

But even with inflation sending prices higher at the fastest clip in more than four decades, consumer campaigner Which? have warned that Black Friday itself was “rarely the cheapest time to shop”. Among the tips suggested by Which? is that shoppers do their research before even stepping out their door by checking the price on previous days via sites like PriceRunner to decipher whether the price is a good deal or a dubious discount.

Black Friday could be a bleak Friday

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at the retail investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Retailers are desperate for some spending cheer but amid the cost-of-living storm, it could turn out to be more of a Bleak Friday as consumers stay more cautious.

“Creeping prices mean we may put fewer items into trollies and virtual baskets. ”

With overall retail sales volumes still below pre-pandemic levels, second-hand shops may be busier than usual. “More people are turning to charity shops and auction houses for deals, rather than buying new,” Streeter said. “This search for second-hand bargains is likely to eat into sales, especially with the might of eBay promoting pre-loved ranges.”

Five ways to get the bets out of Black Friday

To help you avoid a Bleak Friday or Clumsy Monday blunder, Hargreaves Lansdown offered these five tips:

1. Decide what you need in advance – so you don’t get tempted by things you don’t need.

2. Be specific about what you want so you don’t accidentally trade up or end up with an older model.

3. Slow down so you aren’t rushed into falling for what might be a scam.

4. Use a price checker to work out what’s a bargain and what’s just pretending to be one, and finally,

5. Make a plan and stick to it. If you find yourself wavering, try again another day.