The consumer watchdog analysed 201 of last year’s Black Friday deals at six major retailers – Amazon, AO, Argos, Currys, John Lewis and Richer Sounds – looking at their prices every day during the six months before and after Black Friday as well as on the day itself.
A huge 184 of the products, which included popular items such as washing machines, soundbars and TVs, were the same price or cheaper in the six months prior to Black Friday. Only 17 of the deals did not fall into this category.
With Black Friday just days away, Which? is advising shoppers to do some research to help them hunt down the minority of deals that really are a bargain.
Last year, consumers could have had a challenge finding a decent deal at Currys, given every one of the 32 products Which?’s experts looked at from the retailer’s Black Friday sales had been an equal price or cheaper in the previous six months.
However, of the worst individual deals Which? came across was a Zanussi ZWF81441W washing machine at John Lewis that was cheaper than its Black Friday price on 88 different days before the day itself. ‘Discounted’ to £309 on Black Friday, customers could have bought it £60 cheaper at £249 five months before and for £289 within just a month after.
Another dubious ‘deal’ was a Bush BRC100DHEB 100cm Dual Fuel Range Cooker sold at Argos for £449.99 (was £499.99) but it was actually the same price 66 times before and 19 times after Black Friday.
Out of the retailers analysed, Richer Sounds had the highest proportion of deals with four out of 14, that were not cheaper or the same price before Black Friday – still not hugely impressive.
When looking at prices six months before and after Black Friday 2020, just one of the 201 products was at its cheapest price on Black Friday alone.
Many shoppers do not do any research before they splash their cash on Black Friday, which leaves them at greater risk of falling for dud deals. Which? survey research shows four in 10 (39%) of those buying baby and child products last year did little or no research on price, while for home appliances this was the case for three in 10 (28%) and for tech products it was one in five (18%).
Which?’s survey also found that a lot of shoppers had not read reviews of products before buying them. A third (33%) of those buying baby and child products last Black Friday did little or no research on reviews of the products before buying. For those buying home appliances a quarter (26%) were in this position and for tech products it was one in five (22%).
Which?’s pricing investigation also found that, when looking at the six months after Black Friday, almost all (98.5%) of the products across the six retailers were cheaper or the same price at some point during this period – suggesting that in some cases shoppers may be better off biding their time and waiting for the price of a product to fall further.
Which? believes retailers should always make sure the discounts they quote are truly genuine.
Consumers are advised not to feel pressured to rush into making a purchase. They should look to get Black Friday bargains that are the real deal this winter and choose products that are high-quality and built to last.
Says Ele Clark, Which? Retail Editor:
“Our latest investigation has shown that the vast majority of Black Friday deals are not as good as they appear to be, which is why it’s so important to do your research before diving into the sales.
“Take time to identify the products you really want and check that the ‘deal’ you’re seeing represents a genuine saving. That way, you can beat the hype and be confident that you’ll emerge from the Black Friday sales with quality products that will last for years to come – and all for a bargain price.”
Which?’s top tips for shopping in the Black Friday sales
Don’t impulse buy – Work out what you need or want to buy and how much you’re prepared to spend before you start shopping in the sales.
Don’t panic – Don’t worry about missing out on a good offer as our research has revealed that you could be better off waiting until after Black Friday anyway.
Do your research – Look at the price on previous days, using sites such as PriceRunner, to make sure you really are getting a good deal.
Be careful with reviews – It’s always worth checking product reviews before choosing what to buy, but make sure you use a trusted source such as Which? to avoid being caught out by fake reviews.
Don’t be afraid to hit the shops – As long as you have a data connection on your smartphone you can be in Currys and on Amazon at the same time. Having access to websites means you can reference prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal in store.
Know your rights – For those buying in store, check the returns policy as these vary. Buying online gives consumers more rights: depending on the goods they buy, they usually have 14 days from the date of delivery to cancel an order and a further 14 days to return it for a refund.