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Is Black Friday a con? 5 reasons to beware of Black Friday sales

Jasmine Birtles 22nd Nov 2022 5 Comments

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Black Friday is a phenomenon that hit our shores back in 2010 and has been bigger every year. In fact, 30% of all annual retail sales happen between Black Friday and Christmas. It occurs on the last Friday of November.

This year, with so many of us worrying about our finances, retailers are pushing Black Friday ‘deals’ very hard, both in store and online. But how do you know if you’re going to get a real bargain – rather than wasting your cash?

Although we love a good bargain, we also want to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. So, before you head out shopping, read our 5 reasons to beware of Black Friday below.


Beware of scams and fraudsters

Black Friday scams

Black Friday is a great day for fraudsters and scammers to take advantage of shoppers, so make sure you’re extra cautious when looking for deals.

Just because someone uses the words ‘cheap’ or ‘discount’ doesn’t mean that it’s always a good deal. Usually, where the prices seem too good to be true, it means the goods may also be fake or faulty. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is!

This also means you MUST make sure you know the returns policy on what you are buying, especially electrical and other expensive items. Reputable sites and retailers will have no problem being upfront about the ins and outs of their policies so check before you buy.

Faced with the right pressures, we’re all vulnerable. Fraudsters put people into what psychologists call a ‘hot state’. This is when we think less clearly if we are eager to spend during the frenzy of deals and sales. We tend to lose the ability to do due diligence and the hope of getting a bargain can be a compelling lure.

As we shop online more than ever, it’s easy to fall victim to a scam.

Make sure to beware of scam emails, too. Fraudsters will send emails under the guise of being a popular high street retailer offering amazing discounts. Clicking on the links may leave you vulnerable to fraud. Always check the email address from which a message is sent, to make sure it is legit.

Read here about guarantees and warranties – what you need to know.


Beware of dangerous crowds

Black Friday crowds

In previous years, argy-bargy crowds were all we had to worry about. We’ve all seen the footage by now of crowds getting rowdy when store doors open on Black Friday. This year is different: we’ve got a pandemic to think about, too.

Retailers will have kept this in mind and – we hope – will keep an eye out for potential issues while implementing Covid-appropriate measures. However, this year it’s more likely most people will be going for online deals – so if you really want to shop in person, you might be surprised at how few people are in the shop after all!

Remember to mask up, use hand sanitiser, and keep your distance from other shoppers. If anyone gets too close or you feel like the situation is a bit tense, don’t be scared to ask store staff for help, too.

Similarly, in a poll undertaken by Idealo, 24% of people found coping with crowds of people and queuing made them stressed whilst shopping. Stress can lead to spur of the moment purchases and less time taken to reassess what is in our baskets.

Have you heard? Couponing is huge. See our top tips for couponing here.


Beware of impulse buying

Do you actually NEED the thing that’s on an amazing Black Friday deal? Or do you just WANT it?

Black Friday can offer significant savings on really good products, so make a list of what you know you need or want to buy as gifts, and scope out the costs and where the goods are available beforehand.

It’s easy to get lost in the excitement of the sales on Black Friday, so carefully consider if you are making a sensible purchase that you’re going to get use from. This is important even if you don’t go into the shops but just go online. It’s still too easy to be sucked into buying something you don’t need or want. Research your items in advance too – so you can spot a fake discount!

A previous survey by TopCashBack has found that nearly half of UK consumers are waiting for Black Friday sales to buy big ticket items they’ve been wanting for a while and more than a quarter have been holding-off since August. On average, consumers are planning to spend around £421 in the sales but hope to save £228, i.e. they’re hoping to get a 35% discount on their purchases.

Of course, they might get some good discounts if they have researched the items beforehand and know how much they should be. But it’s all too easy to be made to think you’re getting a bargain when you’re not.

Use price tracking websites to help you decide if you’re getting a good deal or not. Websites such as Camel Camel Camel allow you to see how the price of a product has changed over time. This will aid you in deciding whether an item is a bargain, or an impulse buy.

The Black Friday gimmick panics customers into unnecessary purchases with FOMO (fear of missing out) kicking in and it creates the irrational urge to buy things that aren’t needed just in case.

Idealo polled 2,000 people, and found 22% regretted a Black Friday purchase. 32% of respondents also said they found assessing deals highly stressful, often making panicked purchases.

Just remember, despite adverts promising amazing deals and one-off discounts, shops will still want to stretch out their sales over the Christmas period, so there will be sales that last through December and there will be other chances to get a bargain.

Learn the art of haggling on the high street here.


Beware of losing money

If you’re a small (or big) business taking part in the Black Friday frenzy, you could actually end up losing money.

In the last few years, customers have gone into serious spending mode online with bargain buying and as a result many businesses failed to cope as their websites struggled to handle the demand of traffic.

An example of this is Argos which saw its website go down for two hours in the 2014 Black Friday sales because it simply wasn’t prepared for the high quantities of traffic. Research by Six Degrees Group estimate that this website fault could have cost them around £5m.

Research by Deichmann in 2020 revealed that most people haven’t a clue when it comes to bagging a bargain, either. Of almost 6,000 adults surveyed, only 9% worked out that a ‘buy one get one free’ offer isn’t as good value as a “buy one, get a discount on second item” offer. Make sure you’re up-to-scratch on your maths before you make any big purchases!

So it’s important if you’re a small business to prepare properly in order to avoid losing out on revenue on this day. Take a look at this useful guide on how to prepare your website for the Black Friday frenzy…or just decide to ignore the day and do your own flash sale in December to pull in the crowds!

Take a look at our tips for small businesses in this section.


Beware of ‘independent’ retailers

The best offers aren’t always provided by the big brands. Small retailers often jump in on the act too and provide some really good deals.

If you do get tempted by an offer on a site you don’t recognise, though, you should check their authenticity before you buy.

Impartial reviews are available to read on sites such as Reevoo where you can run a background company check online, which includes their credit score. If you are buying online, always pay with credit card or Paypal to make sure that your transaction is protected.

Also remember that Black Friday products do not guarantee extended return policies either so if you’re buying for Christmas check in advance. This is especially important right now when many shops might offer a full Black Friday closing down sale – so you won’t be able to return the goods when the shop is closed permanently.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that major card providers such as MasterCard and Visa will reimburse you the cost difference if an advertised Black Friday price is lower than the price you recently paid for the same item.

You need to send your receipt, the ad and a claim form within 60 days of the ad’s publication.


is Black Friday a con?

Overall we think Black Friday is a great chance to get a hold of brilliant bargains if you know what you’re looking for and don’t get sidetracked. Just keep in mind the points we’ve mentioned above.

Remember, don’t go crazy and stay within your budget! With Christmas around the corner and New Year approaching fast, we want you to avoid starting 2018 off with a heap of unnecessary debts.

Have you had a nightmare with Black Friday ‘bargains’ or did you do rather well at the sales? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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‘That sh*t used to be like the Hunger Games’: Shopper says Black Friday deals aren’t what they used to be, calls out stores for small discounts - FindBerg
7 months ago

[…] Black Fridays of yesteryear being long forgotten, many contest that the savings “event” has almost always been a scam. Truly low-cost items were few and far between with extremely limited quantities. Oftentimes, prior […]

‘That Sh*t Used To Be Like The Hunger Games’: Shopper Says Black Friday Deals Aren’t What They Used To Be, Calls Out Stores For Small Discounts - Starleto News
7 months ago

[…] Black Fridays of yesteryear being long forgotten, many contest that the savings “event” has almost always been a scam. Truly low-cost items were few and far between with extremely limited quantities. Oftentimes, prior […]

1 year ago

Black friday is just joke, nothing of value is given just dropped over markups.

4 years ago

I was brought up never to be sucked in by the sales. But – and I was trying to work it out how many years ago it was recently – I did acquire a Kindle on a Black Friday deal. In fact due to my innocence with all things internet- I nearly didn’t get it but it has served me well for the purpose that I bought it. Long may it live!

5 years ago

I would be very wary of black Friday so called deals and I would hate to be in the scrum in a physical shop.

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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