Just 1 in 7 Black Friday deals genuine, claims Which?

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Only one in seven (14%) Black Friday deals offer a genuine discount, according to new Which? research which finds the vast majority of promotions are cheaper or the same price in the six months before the sales extravaganza.

The consumer association analysed 214 Black Friday deals last year at seven major home and tech retailers – Amazon, AO, Argos, Currys, John Lewis, Richer Sounds and Very – looking at their prices every day in the six months before and after the sale day (26 November 2021).

Out of the deals analysed Which? found 183 (86%) were actually cheaper or the same as their Black Friday price in the six months before the sales event and 209 (98%) were cheaper or the same price at other times in the year. None were cheaper on Black Friday alone.

Which?’s research shows that while there are some deals to be had, genuine discounts are often few and far between and with the mammoth sales event less than 72 hours away, Which? is urging customers not to fall for the hype without carefully examining whether items are really worth buying and that the ‘discounted’ price offers a genuine saving.

In one example, Which? researchers found a Zanussi ZHB62670XA chimney cooker hood was £239 on Black Friday in 2021 at John Lewis, with a £30 saving. But it had been the same price since 9 November, and was reduced to £160 for a fortnight in August. It only increased to £269 on 13 October, meaning that the so-called £30 saving didn’t really represent good value for money.

Also at John Lewis, Which? found a Bosch KIR81VSF0G fridge for £869 that dropped in price by £20 less than a week later. It stayed at the lower price every day until 23 February 2022.

At AO, Which? researchers found a Leisure KIR81VSF0G freestanding electric range cooker for £969 on Black Friday last year with a £30 saving. But it remained at this price until 23 December 2021, when it dropped further. Which? found that it did not return to above the pre-Black Friday price until February 2022.

The Toshiba 43UL2163DBC TV was £279 at Very on Black Friday last year, with a claimed £100 saving. Which? found it had been £379 for just three days in the month before Black Friday. It stayed at £279 until 22 December 2021, when it dropped further to £275.

Even when including discounts applied in the two weeks around the big day, to take account of Cyber Monday sales, Which? found that 186 (87%) of deals had a lower or equal price at another time.

Amazon and Very were the worst retailers overall for dubious discounts, Which? found, with more than 70 per cent of products included in its analysis cheaper at other times of the year compared to their Black Friday price.

When Which? spoke to the retailers about its findings all, apart from Currys and Very which didn’t respond, said that Black Friday is a key time for deals but is just part of efforts to offer savings through the year. 

Which? is therefore urging customers not to feel pressured into making purchases and instead take the time to do their research before parting with any cash to make sure they are buying a high-quality product at a price that genuinely offers value for money.

Says Reena Sewraz, Which? Retail Editor: 

“Our research shows that finding a good deal on Black Friday is like looking for a needle in a haystack. It’s rarely the cheapest time to shop and you’ll probably find the things you want are the same price or cheaper as we head towards Christmas, the New Year and beyond.

“Retailers are not blind to the extra pressures on people’s finances this year and will be keen to use Black Friday to attract people looking to get the most for their money, so we should still expect some deals. Our advice is to take the time to do some research if you want to find a genuine bargain.”

Retailer Count of products Cheaper in 6 months before BF 2021 Cheaper in 6 months after BF 2021 % cheaper in 6 months before BF 2021 % cheaper in 6 months after BF 2021
Amazon 32 5 20 16% 63%
John Lewis 57 9 22 16% 39%
Currys 39 0 18 0% 46%
Argos 17 0 4 0% 24%
Richer Sounds 24 1 11 4% 46%
AO 26 7 12 27% 46%
Very 19 2 14 11% 74%
Retailer Count of products Cheaper or same in 6 months before BF 2021 Cheaper or same in 6 months after BF 2021 % cheaper or same in 6 months before BF 2021 % cheaper or same in 6 months after BF 2021
Amazon 32 24 28 75% 88%
John Lewis 57 46 57 81% 100%
Currys 39 37 39 95% 100%
Argos 17 17 17 100% 100%
Richer Sounds 24 20 23 83% 96%
AO 26 25 26 96% 100%
Very 19 14 19 74% 100%

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 Which?’s 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.

Right of Replies

Amazon

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We seek to offer our customers great value thanks to low prices all year round as well as a number of fantastic seasonal deals events. Our Black Friday sale offers thousands of deals from every category across the site at a time of year when we know saving money is important to our customers.”

AO

An AO spokesperson said: “We’re proud of our role over the last 20 years in driving down prices for customers. The internet is almost always the cheapest place to buy electricals and our over 350,000 4-star-plus Trustpilot reviews demonstrate it’s also a better way to buy the category. Black Friday itself remains but one part of the many deals we offer customers through the year.”

Argos

An Argos spokesperson said, “We’re committed to offering our customers a wide range of products at great prices throughout the year and our Black Friday deals are no exception.”

John Lewis

A John Lewis spokesperson said: “We have great offers all year round. The offers referred to in this research were as a result of our Never Knowingly Undersold price match pledge which applied until earlier this year, where we price matched high street competitors throughout the year. We retired Never Knowingly Undersold this August and are investing £500m – 25% higher than last year – so all our customers can benefit from great quality and value,  whether they shop in store or online.”

Richer Sounds

A Richer Sounds spokesperson said: “We recognise that the rules around ‘were’ pricing can be unclear to consumers. In view of this, we have worked with Which? to develop our newly-launched Pricing charter. We believe that this will offer our customers real clarity and even greater peace of mind.  

“With regards to pricing after Black Friday, we can only set prices for Black Friday with the information we have at that time. Afterwards, manufacturers may have excess stock to shift, or other determining factors in the market means that some prices stay low and we’re always delighted to be able to offer our customers an extended opportunity to get a saving.

“We still honestly believe that Black Friday remains one of the key times of the year in the retail calendar where consumers can generally expect to pick up great deals.”

 

Chris Price
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