Consumer expert Isabella Silvers shares her tips on shopping the Black Friday sales, including how to find the best deals and the scams to look out for
Over the past few years, Black Friday has become one of the busiest shopping days in the UK. In 2023, it falls on Friday 24 November.
The idea for Black Friday came from the US – it falls on the Friday following Thanksgiving, which traditionally marks the start of the Christmas shopping season. The date seems to have acquired the title ‘Black Friday’ from the gridlock and crowds that frequently accompany it.
Today, retailers encourage shoppers to splash the cash with a range of enticing discounts and deals online and in store. According to research from finder.com, Brits plan to spend an estimated £3 billion on Black Friday and Cyber Monday (27 November 2023) this year – that’s an average of £113 per person.
But while there are some serious savings to be had, it’s wise to be cautious about who you give your details and hard-earned money to, especially when shopping online. And the best bargains aren’t always to be had on Black Friday – many items will be cheaper at other times of the year, for example immediately before Christmas (when retailers want to shift their festive stock) or in the January sales (when they're preparing for new lines).
Here, we bring you our list of do's and don'ts for shopping the Black Friday sales. We'll give you tips on everything from finding the best deals to keeping yourself safe from scams – and you'll also find out how you can save more with Boundless.
DO write your shopping list
The lure of a good deal can sometimes be too tempting to resist, whether or not you actually need that air fryer or steam mop. Novuna Consumer Finance found that one in three shoppers will re-gift items they purchased for themselves in the Black Friday sales, so the key to shopping smartly is to know what you’re looking for and stick closely to it.
Prior to the big day, note down the items you’re on the hunt for, as well as the retailers you’d like to shop from, and set a spend limit. Make your key purchases before you blow your budget – and don’t forget to check which brands offer Boundless member discounts, too.
DO buy big ticket items
If you’ve been on the hunt for expensive tech, furniture or white goods, then Black Friday is a great time to shop for these items at less than their usual price. Equally, if you’re planning on renovating or moving home in the near future, then it might be worth trying to get a good deal now, even if it means storing that mattress in your living room for a couple of months.
Last year, Argos offered big discounts on TVs, vacuum cleaners, speakers and even Lego sets, while for 2023 Currys promises “deals on this season's hottest appliances and tech”. It’s worth checking out holiday and cruise deals, too, as you may be able to book your next getaway for less than you thought.
DO take advantage of Boundless shopping discounts
One way to get the most for your money is to combine a Black Friday deal with an existing discount. For example, as a Boundless member you can enjoy a year-round discount of up to 10% on Apple products, a range of high-street shopping discounts, plus many more offers on attractions, dining, clothing and travel. In addition to these perennial deals, you can save up to 20% with Dell until 3 December 2023. Combine these discounts with seasonal offers during Black Friday and you can tick lots off your wishlist with significant savings. (If you’re not a Boundless member, find out how to get £260 worth of savings for just £40 here.)
DO sign up to newsletters
Once you’ve nailed your hit-list of brands, sign up to their newsletters to be the first to know of any Black Friday discounts. Many shops will send out exclusive access or deals to subscribers first, meaning you can bag even more of a markdown.
It’s also worth checking back regularly to find out about any further reductions or new deals – last year, Amazon launched deals for only a few days at a time, with new discounts dropped regularly, while other brands will also add new stock to their offering throughout the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period.
DO pre-plan Christmas presents
If you already know what you want to buy for friends and family this Christmas, then Black Friday is a great time to save a few pennies. According to finder.com, 39% of consumers pick up presents in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. And it's not just tech brands that'll be offering discounts – many sites will have deals on clothes and beauty items, too.
In 2022, Boots’ Black Friday sale offered discounts of more than 50% on some items, with No7 gift sets slashed by nearly 75%. Beauty brands ESPA, Neom and Aromatherapy Associates also had big discounts, so they're well worth keeping an eye on this year.
Other Black Friday pages to monitor include:
John Lewis Black Friday – for fashion, homeware, beauty and tech
Currys Black Friday – for kitchen appliances, TVs, mobiles and laptops
Argos Black Friday – for gadgets, gifts, toys and home equipment
Amazon Black Friday – for Amazon devices, appliances and gadgets
Lakeland Black Friday – for kitchenware and gadgets
Not on the High Street Black Friday – for unique and personalised gifts
Small savings will all add up, so don’t forget to check if your gifts can be bought with a Boundless member discount, too.
DO shop around
It’s wise to visit different stores to compare prices for the items you have your eye on, as some might have a better sale than others.
If you’re shopping online, you can install a browser plug-in such as Karma that'll scour the internet for you, automatically applying the best discount codes or letting you know if an item is available cheaper elsewhere.
DON’T forget to check past prices
Before you press ‘pay’ on what might feel like a bargain, it’s worth checking whether your deal could be deceptive. A 2019 study by Which? revealed that 98% of items were actually cheaper to buy before or after the sales.
Don’t be duped by supposed price slashes, and keep an eye on prices before Black Friday. Sites such as Camelcamelcamel.com will also give you a detailed price history of your item, so you know whether to hold out for a bigger bargain.
DON’T fall victim to a scam
Fraud schemes and phishing are becoming increasingly common, and Black Friday is a veritable playground for scammers. When shopping online, ensure you stay vigilant, only dishing out your details to verified websites.
Remember that bona fide brands will never ask for sensitive information – such as your card details – over text, a phone call or email. Check any messages for bad spelling and grammar (a sure sign of a scam), and make sure there's a legitimate email address or website link – genuine brands will always buy their domain, so firstname.lastname@example.org isn’t likely to be a reputable source. Always check for a padlock symbol in the left corner of your browser bar when paying, too; this indicates a secure site.
DON’T underestimate credit cards
If you're concerned about losing money, it’s always wise to pay with a credit card. Unlike debit cards, credit payments are protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, where your credit provider will take liability for any goods or services between £100 and £30,000.
PayPal will also allow you to dispute charges for certain items if you make a claim within 180 days of purchase, so it could pay to know your rights.
Save more with Boundless
If you’re a Boundless member, and you haven’t yet used your shopping card discounts, now’s a perfect time to benefit. Find out more about the great savings you can make on big name brands, including M&S and Currys, year-round.