How to spot the duds and root out the best deals this Black Friday

Jordon Cox

By MoneySavingExpert's Coupon Kid, Jordon Cox

Black Friday is here, and while it’s known as a sales day, retailers have been doing sales for weeks to pull in punters. With millions of items reduced, and countless retailers competing harder on price than at any other time of year, it can be difficult to spot the best deal.

We have full analysis on our Black Friday deals page of all the deals as they’re revealed, but here are some tips to help you sniff out the stinkers from the bargains.

– Use Martin’s Money Mantras

Don’t fall for the hype. If you are interested in an item, ask yourself a few questions before buying it. Can I afford this item? Would I have bought this if it wasn’t on sale? Do I NEED it? Am I buying it for the sake of it? If you second guess yourself on any of these, put it down and walk away. See Martin’s Money Mantras.

– Check our page for analysis

The MSE Deals team have been up since the crack of dawn this morning to do all of the hard work for you to sort the duds from the hot deals. We’ll be posting all of our findings on our Black Friday Deals page, as well as posting regular updates on our Twitter account, so follow us for updates.

– Check the prices now

If there is something that you know you want to buy, either as a Christmas present or for yourself, it’s good to do your research now to get a feel for the pricing. If it’s a fairly standard price across the board now, then you’ll know whether you’re getting a bargain if the price drops further.

Retailers are often suspected of putting up their prices just a few days before sales, to then reduce them to a ‘new low price’ once the sale begins – so just be aware of that and get screengrabs now (see our MSE reports Argos to advertising watchdog news story).

– Do your own price comparisons

Don’t assume the first place you look will be the cheapest price for the item you want. Often over Black Friday, retailers get into a pricing battle, changing prices constantly to undercut or match competitors.

So always do your own price comparisons to see which retailer is cheapest before pouncing. And check our MSE Black Friday page regularly as we will be doing analysis of all the deals from top retailers.

– Don’t assume a big discount is a big saving

You’ll see so many discounts and deals on Black Friday with tons of terminology. “50% off, up to 70% off, from 50% off”, and then the standard cash amounts off. But just because you see a high number, doesn’t mean it’s a massive saving. Some retailers may bill their sales as “up to 70% off” and only have one or two items at the highest amount off.

What’s more, just because an item says it has £100 off for instance, it doesn’t mean it’s a steal. It could’ve been a ridiculously high price to start with and cheaper at a rival – which is why it’s important to do your price comparisons beforehand.

– Don’t only think about price

On Black Friday, because there are so many retailers offering similar prices, it’s worth considering other factors when deciding where to buy from. One prime example of this, is if you are purchasing a high value electronic item, purchasing through John Lewis gets you a longer warranty than a lot of its rivals.

Another example would be returns. If you are unsure of whether an item is right for you, you can buy it from a retailer with a better returns policy for if you change your mind at a later stage.

– Be careful of scam websites.

If the price of an item seems too good to be true, then it often is. If in doubt, look out for customer reviews online, check out the company details on Companies House, and look out for a real address and phone number in the website T&Cs.  See our Stop Scams guide for more tips on how to shop safely online.

– See historical Amazon pricing using CamelCamelCamel

If you’re a loyal Amazon shopper, you can look at the old prices of items by using historical price-tracking tool CamelCamelCamel. Not only does this tell you if you are getting a good deal on Amazon on the day, you can also see if the price has been cheaper than it is today.

If you find that the item you want has been cheaper before, you can hold off on buying, and the price might go down even further at a later date.

– Don’t be afraid to haggle even more off

As Black Friday is a sales day frenzy, don’t be afraid to haggle even more money off of already discounted items either in store or through online chat services. It is likely that retailers increased their stock to cope with the demand, so if you want to get the absolute best deal, it can’t hurt to ask for a little bit more off. The worst they can do is say no! See our haggling guide for top tips.

– Know your rights

You’ve more rights buying online (or by telephone/catalogue) due to the Consumer Contracts Regulations. These give a legal right of 14 days to cancel the order after receiving it, and a further 14 days to send most goods back for a full refund (including outward delivery costs), even if there’s no fault. You’ll usually need to pay for the return delivery. For full info see our Consumer Rights guide.

Now with these tips, hopefully you’re poised and ready to take Black Friday by the horns and make it work for you – just remember those Money Mantras.

As always, we are on hand to guide your through the day and help ensure you don’t overspend. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below, Tweet us @MSE_Deals.