When is it best to buy – on Black Friday or in pre-Christmas sales?
If you've got Christmas gifts to stock up on, you might be best buying on Black Friday rather than planning a last-minute dash around the shops. New MoneySavingExpert.com research has found that, last year, the prices of more than half of the 50 popular items we checked were cheaper on Black Friday compared to on 23 December.
There are three traditional discount periods at this time of year:
- Black Friday – this falls on 25 November this year, though discounts start roughly from mid-November, and in some cases even earlier. This is where we tend to see the strongest offers of the year, including blanket discounts, site-wide codes and 'up to' sales off everything.
- Pre-Christmas sales – typically referred to as 'Boxing Day sales'. In the past these started on 26 December, but now these tend to begin just before Christmas, which is handy if you've last-minute shopping to do.
- January sales – it's very difficult to compare these as they tend to be retailers shifting surplus stock, rather than store-wide discounts.
Our analysis below focuses on comparing Black Friday and pre-Christmas prices. You can also visit our Deals, Vouchers & Shopping homepage for offers that are checked and verified by the MoneySavingExpert (MSE) team.
Martin Lewis, MoneySavingExpert.com founder, said: "Based on our evidence, if the item you've been planning to buy is discounted by a decent amount on Black Friday, you're taking a risk to wait and see if it will be cheaper in the pre-Christmas sales.
"Clearly, with tens of thousands of shops and hundreds of thousands of items, there can never be a hard and fast rule. But Black Friday discounts being a complete washout is not backed up by the data, based on the 50 items we looked at."
The biggest discounts ARE available on Black Friday
We looked at the price of 50 popular items on Black Friday 2021 and again on 23 December 2021, and found that the biggest discounts were available on Black Friday – here's an overview of our results:
|When items were cheapest||27 items (54%)||13 items (26%)|
|Average discount (1)||27%||23%|
The products with the lowest prices on Black Friday
More than half of the items we tracked were cheapest on Black Friday, while just over a quarter were cheaper in the pre-Christmas sales. The remaining 10 (20%) were the same price on both dates. Here's our full list of products and prices tracked – though there is no guarantee we'll see the same trends this year, and prices can change at any time.
|Fire TV Stick 4K – £49.99||£24.99||£32.99|
|AirPods with charging case (2nd gen) – £119||£99||£119|
|AirPods Pro – £239||£185||£189|
|AirPods Max – £549||£429||£549|
|iPad Air 10.9" 64GB (2020) – £579||£549||£579|
|iPad Pro 11" 128GB (2021) – £749||£649||£749|
|iPad Pro 12.9" 128GB (2021) – £999||
|Fitbit Charge 4 – £129.99||£89.99||£99.99|
|Fitbit Versa 2 – £149.99||£98.92||£109.99|
|Fitbit Versa 3 – £199.99||£139||£159|
|Fitbit Sense – £279.99||£189||£199|
|Hive motion sensor – £29||£19||TABLE_CELL_STYLE£24|
|Hive colour changing light bulb – £44||£27.99||TABLE_CELL_STYLE£35.95|
|Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) – £89.99||£54.99||TABLE_CELL_STYLE£59.99|
|Google Nest Hub Max – £219||£159||TABLE_CELL_STYLE£169|
|Nintendo Switch Lite – £219.99||£179||TABLE_CELL_STYLE£199.99|
|Nintendo Switch – £259.99||£230||TABLE_CELL_STYLE£258.35|
|Nintendo Switch bundle (with Mario Kart 8) – £309.99||£239||TABLE_CELL_STYLE£259.99|
|Nintendo Switch OLED bundle – £349.99||£344.99||TABLE_CELL_STYLE£349.99|
|Ring Indoor camera – £49||£44||TABLE_CELL_STYLE£49|
|Ring Alarm security system (2nd gen) – £219||£129||TABLE_CELL_STYLE£139|
|George Foreman 10 portion health grill – £109||£35||TABLE_CELL_STYLE£40|
|Babyliss 5753RU Berry Crush Hair Dryer – £39.99||£16.99||TABLE_CELL_STYLE£20|
|Revlon one-step hairdyer and volumiser – £59.99||£29.99||TABLE_CELL_STYLE£39.99|
|Dyson V11 Absolute cordless vacuum cleaner – £599||£449||TABLE_CELL_STYLE£599.99|
|Hive View indoor security camera – £179||£115.20||TABLE_CELL_STYLE£179|
|Nintendo Switch Lite bundle (with Animal Crossing) – £229.99||£160||£229.99|
|Echo Dot (4th gen) – £49.99||£28.99||£28.99|
|AirPods with wireless charging case (3rd gen) – £169||£159||£159|
|Fitbit Ace 2 for Kids – £49.99||£39.99||£39.99|
|Fitbit Ace 3 – £69.99||£49.99||£49.99|
|Hive Active plug – £39||£29||£29|
|Nintendo Switch OLED (white or neon) – £309.99||£309.99||£309.99|
|PS4 500GB – £249.99||£249.99||£249.99|
|Xbox One S (1TB) – £249.99||£249.99||£249.99|
|Ring Video wired doorbell – £49||£34||£34|
|Tassimo by Bosch coffee machine – £79.99||£29||£29|
|Echo Dot (3rd gen) – £39.99||£18.99||£16.99|
|Oral-B Pro 3 two-pack of electric toothbrushes – £139.99||£54.99||£45|
|Apple Watch Series 3 (38mm) – £199||£185||£179|
|Apple Watch Series 3 (42mm) – £229||£215||£209|
|Apple Watch Series 6 (40mm) – £399||£379||£319|
|Apple Watch Series 6 (44mm) – £429||£409||£299|
|Fitbit Inspire 2 – £89.99||£57.99||£54|
|Fitbit Charge 5 – £169||£139||£129|
|Google Nest Mini (2nd gen) – £49||£18||£17.99|
|PS4 FIFA 22 – £59.99||£35||£30|
|PS4 Call of Duty: Vanguard – £59.99||£48||£38.99|
|Xbox FIFA 22 – £54.99||£35||£34.99|
|Xbox Call of Duty: Vanguard – £57.99||£48||£39.99|
How to find the best deals
- Use our Christmas Deals Predictor tool to help you plan when's best to purchase. We use our insight to calculate when to expect sales and discounts at major retailers.
- See our Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals page for updates and analysis. Including our predictions about the deals to come.
- If you have your eye on something, check prices NOW. Then when it comes to Black Friday, you'll know if the 'discounts' are really cheaper. Check prices at the retailer you were planning to buy from, and do a wider price comparison using free tools, such as Google Shopping, PriceSpy and PriceRunner, and the Amazon price-tracking tool CamelCamelCamel.
- Just because an item is on sale on Black Friday, that doesn't mean you can't get it cheaper at another time of year. In 2021, price comparison website PriceSpy, for example, found that 27,276 (22%) of the 124,550 goods it checked were cheaper in the run-up to Black Friday rather than on the day itself.
- Before you spend, ask yourself, do I need it? Can I afford it? It's not a saving if you weren't going to buy it anyway. Use our free Money Mantras card to help you stop spending when you shouldn't.