Black Friday: check deal is really a bargain, UK shoppers are told

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Shoppers have been warned to check they are getting a “genuine bargain” before handing over their cash on Black Friday as research suggests that an extra £500m will be spent during this year’s discount bonanza.

Black Friday, a US import that has become popular in the UK, falls on 25 November this year and is followed by Cyber Monday.

However, experts have told consumers not to get caught out by attractive deals – many of which have already started – particularly given the background of the cost of living crisis, which is putting household budgets under severe pressure.

Reena Sewraz, the Which? retail editor, said that while some shoppers would use Black Friday deals to spread the cost of Christmas, it found that “most of the advertised ‘deals’ should be taken with a pinch of salt”.

She said: “Retailers will be aware of the extra financial pressure on people this winter and they’ll be looking for ways to attract customers by focusing on value for money but our advice is to not fall for the hype and do some research to make sure you end up with a genuine bargain,” she said.

Research by PwC estimates that the average spend per person will be about £238, with sales this year £500m higher than 2021. Consumers will predominantly be shopping for electricals (51%), fashion (32%) and Christmas stocking fillers (28%), according to the survey.

Lisa Hooker, the industry leader for consumer markets at PwC, said: “Consumers have been closely monitoring their favourite brands in anticipation of big-ticket electronics, more pricey winter wear or Christmas stocking fillers being promoted, and consumers are more than ever in search of bargains, given rising inflation.

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“Retailers have definitely held their nerve this year, with less promotional activity, but many are likely to see Black Friday as an opportunity to engage with consumers, clear excess stock and offer value for money.”

Despite rising household costs, 37% of consumers said theymay buy in the sales – up 2% from 2021 – and 24% of consumers said they will definitely buy – matching 2021 levels. In 2020, only 16% of consumers planned to buy in the Black Friday period.

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Martin Lewis, the founder of MoneySavingExpert, said on Twitter: “My Black Friday shopping memo … If you were going to buy it anyway and it’s half price, you’ve saved 50%. If you weren’t going to buy it, but do because it’s half price, you’ve wasted 100%.”

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Consumers have also been warned to be vigilant against fraud when shopping online during the festive period because scammers take advantage of the fact that people may be under pressure to get a cheap deal, and therefore less careful than usual about handing over payment details.

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The latest figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau found that shoppers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland were scammed out of £15.3m between November 2021 and January 2022.

The age group most likely to be affected was 19- to 25-year-olds, and about £1,000 was lost for each person, the statistics, based on Action Fraud reports, showed.

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