Black Friday is approaching fast, and we’re joining in. But where did this bonanza of a shopping day come from?
It’s origins go back further than you think – to Philadelphia in the early 1950’s. It eventually made its way over to the UK in the early 1950’s when Amazon introduced it followed by Asda.
Some £1.1bn was spent online and in the shops last year, so we thought we’d give you the heads-up on what you should be doing this Black Friday.
- Spot the ‘derivative’ deals
Some products advertised as heavily discounted may not be quite what you hoped for. Companies often release so-called “derivative” products that look very similar to flagship items, but are made with cheaper components or to a lower spec.
This is particularly important for electronic items, where it may not immediately be obvious that internal components are different.
Attention to detail is the only way to combat this. Look closely at model numbers and check the specifications of any item against what you are expecting.
If the discount is huge, get hugely suspicious!
- Use cashback to amplify your deal
Cashback sites allow you to get money back on purchases. Some stores have their own cashback system – for example, Nectar points at Sainsbury’s.
These give you points which can then be redeemed against more shopping.
Other sites give you straightforward cashback on buying flights, holidays, and other purchases. Sites which do this include Quidco and Topcashback.
Some credit cards also give cashback on purchases either at certain shops or everywhere.
- Set up online accounts ahead
If you’re serious about Black Friday deals make sure you set up online accounts with favourite retailers before the day, storing your details.
- Haggle using live chat
Even though you’ll be up to your ears in discounts come Black Friday, there’s always a chance you could shave a little more off the price – via online chat.
There’s no awkwardness, you are literally typing your desire for a better deal or discount code into a box.
- Use a credit card, not debit, to pay
The safest way to spend – where the bank will end up footing the bill, rather than you, if the transaction goes awry – is on a credit card.
If the goods fail to arrive or aren’t as promised by the seller’s site, the card company has a liability and should refund you the money.
In practice getting the card issuing bank to live up to this promise (known as “Section 75”, after the relevant clause in credit legislation) may not be that easy. You may have to keep plugging away.
If the site is unfamiliar to you or you’re in any doubt, take screen-grabs of the items or printouts, in case you subsequently have to prove to your bank that the item delivered wasn’t what you ordered.
- Grab an ‘abandoned basket’ discount
Some retailers offer customers deals if they can see they’ve put items in their online shopping basket but not completed the purchase.
This isn’t guaranteed but it’s worth checking, especially if you’re lukewarm about the item at the offered price.
You’ll need to login to the retailer’s website and and shop as normal. However instead of going through with the purchase, abandon your basket and close the window.
If it works, a few days later you’ll have an email from the retailer enticing you back with money off your purchase.
Retailers who have been known to offer this discount include Asda, Asos, H&M and Waitrose.
- Check the discount
Just because a website tells you a product is available at a discount doesn’t mean it actually is.
Big retailers been exposed for misleading discount claims.
These include where an item is gradually reduced in price but the discount figure quoted is compared to the “original” price.
A quick check elsewhere might reveal that the sale promoted by an online retailer is actually the same as the non-discounted price somewhere else.
If you know what you want to buy now, it’s worth checking prices today, on a range of sites.
- Get stalking on social media
Make sure you’re following all your favourite brands on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to hear about offers or further discounts.
Be careful though. There are plenty of fake deals to be found on Facebook and elsewhere.
Make sure the accounts you are following are verified with a blue tick.
Keep an eye on Whatsapp, the messaging app, too. Action Fraud, the cyber-crime reporting service, recently highlighted a scam which saw many users receive messages seemingly from their contacts inviting them to click on links to a Sainsbury’s and Topshop deal.