The annual shopping event that many retailers, and us bargain-hunters, look forward to is almost upon us but a consumer group has warned that deals should be “taken with a pinch of salt”.
According to research by the consumer group Which?, just 2% of discounted Black Friday offers were at their cheapest price on the day of the sales event last year.
It warned shoppers to compare prices as retailers responded by largely dismissing the findings, pointing to the fact that chains do not typically promise to make Black Friday deals their cheapest of the year.
Which? analysed 208 deals available on 25 November 2022 and said that only five were cheapest on that Black Friday.
All the prices were compared to those offered to consumers in the six months before and after the sale day.
Which? said that the prices for 86% of the products were the same price or cheaper at other times of the year when the Black Friday sale period was extended beyond just the single official day, to capture week-long offers including those on so-called Cyber Monday.
The report said that 75% of products at Argos that were on offer on Black Friday – and were included in the study – were cheaper at other times of the year.
The consumer group said that was the highest proportion for any of the eight retailers examined.
One TV was found to be £120 cheaper than the Black Friday price in the following March – the time of year that new models tend to be introduced.
Argos told Which? that only one product in its analysis was a Black Friday deal, but the watchdog found many of the Argos products included in its analysis had ‘Black Friday’ included in the online URL and were included in a section of the retailer’s website called ‘Black Friday deals and hot products’.
An Argos spokeswoman said: “Which? has leaped to outlandish conclusions, based on just one ‘Black Friday’ deal at Argos.
“We offer hundreds of great value deals across a wide range of products each year. This does not exclude these items from other promotions and clearance sales in the future.
“Right now customers have extra peace of mind when they shop with us, thanks to our Black Friday Price-Promise badge. This guarantees the product will not fall below the current price before January 1, 2024.”
AO World was scathing of the group’s conclusion that half its Black Friday offers that were analysed were cheaper at other times.
An spokesperson responded: “This is classical biased, unbalanced Which? ‘research’ that’s rolled out every year and always totally misses the point and doesn’t represent the value that Black Friday’s promotional period delivers for hard-pressed households to reduce the cost of Christmas.”
Ele Clark, Which? Retail editor, said it was important for consumers to do their homework and shop around.
“Our research shows that you don’t need to feel pressured to splash out on Black Friday as it’s rarely the cheapest time to shop.
“Retailers are not unaware of the extra pressure on household finances this year and will be keen to use Black Friday to attract shoppers looking to get the most for their money.
“While they’re rare, there are some genuine bargains to be had – just make sure you do your research and don’t panic buy.
“It’s worth comparing the price at multiple retailers and checking the product’s price history using a site such as PriceRunner or PriceSpy – that way you’ll know a good deal when you see one.”