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Why you shouldn’t bother with Black Friday this year

There are many ways to be a much savvier spender this season – here’s how

Kate Hughes
Money Editor
Tuesday 17 November 2020 12:04 GMT
Even with the pandemic, eager bargain-hunters will be handing over an estimated £6.5bn to retailers this year
Even with the pandemic, eager bargain-hunters will be handing over an estimated £6.5bn to retailers this year (Getty)

It’s now an integral part of the Christmas run up, and this year, despite thousands on reduced incomes and thousands more having lost their jobs altogether, we’re still planning to part with more than £6.5bn this Black Friday.  

Though the total is down significantly on last year, the average shopper will part with almost £290, according to research by TopCashback. In fact, with four in ten Brits reliant on Black Friday sales to deliver their Christmas purchases at a price they can afford, this year’s online spending is set to be even more frenzied due to Covid-19.

Uswitch estimates 24 million people will “take part” in Black Friday sales this year. But they probably shouldn’t bother.  

Black Friday 2019 ranked only fifth in the biggest shopping events of the last twelve months in terms of the discounts available.

The January, Boxing Day, Easter and even spring sales all saw more items discounted than Black Friday, according to analysis by deal site  

That’s despite more and more brands gearing up for this particular US-import weeks in advance this year in a bid to cash in with their early discounts, director Rick Harris warns.

Even those savvy spenders with clear shopping lists and a will of iron would do better to hold off.  

Of the purchases we’re planning this year, clothes and shoes, smartphones, laptops, other electronics like ear pods and, of course, TVs are top of the list. They’re swiftly followed by games consoles, beauty products, white goods, tablets and even furniture, TopCashback data suggests.

And while you’d be forgiven for assuming the big ticket items in particular should be snapped up at the end of November, the truth is a little different.  

Timing is everything

So if you have a shopping list of must haves, especially big ticket purchases for which decent discounts represent a sizeable chunk of cash, when should you buy?

While YouGov shows more than two-fifth of shoppers believe they are expert shoppers, many wait until high demand periods – like the upcoming Black Friday or January sales – to make their large purchases, which often ends up costing them more.

But even a few weeks wait could mean huge savings. The peak search time for watches and sunglasses is, unsurprisingly, 22-28 December, the week around Christmas. But if you can hang on until January, or remember to buy your holiday eyewear for next year at exactly the point that the UK experiences the shortest, darkest days, you could snap up a 40 per cent discount, suggests Danny Richmond managing director of Tic Watches.    

Need a new motor? The best time to snap up deals worth up to 25 per cent off is usually March and September because of bi-annual targets, although deals are to be had at the end of each quarter, depending on individual targets and stock availability.  

(Though if you want to go second hand, wait until December when everyone is otherwise engaged and feeling the pinch of the festive season.)

And if you thought you might splash out on a new mattress for the spare room (or the home school or office as it is now better known) just in time for, erm, nobody to be able to stay over this socially distanced festive season, try to resist until spring when you could save more than half.  

Dale Gillespie, marketing director for bed and mattress retailer Bed SOS, says: “Retailers tend to release their new line ups in April, so early spring is the best time to find the biggest discounts. Buying in early April, you’ll find some great value deals as retailers clear old stock to make way for the new ranges.”

Against the flow

By May, as the weather starts to warm up it’s time to buy winter shoes and coats. Experts suggest up to 70 per cent off in the process as the world eyes the bikinis and shorts of the long-promised summer. (Those incidentally should be bought at the end of August for savings of up to 75 per cent.)  

And of course, summer footwear is better off bought in autumn and winter.  

Meanwhile, if you’re planning a life change, go for a gym membership in June or at least at the end of a month, for savings of up to 20 per cent as the January enthusiasm wanes, and wait until July for up to 50 per cent of engagement rings.  

Miles from the big holidays, jewellers may need to use discounts during the peak wedding season to lure in next year’s brides and grooms.

Should you be planning some seriously big spending, September may be a good month – in a normal year – for a new home, adds Ross Counsell, director at property firm Good Move. He also notes the peak search time is usually back in February.  

“The best time to buy is August or September. The majority of buyers start searching at the beginning of the year, waiting until the end of summer, when there are fewer looking, you’ll have less competition,” he says.

“You’re also more likely to get a better deal, as with fewer offers on the table, sellers may well be more likely to accept a lower price.”  

Wait for it…

Handily, the home appliances to fill your next step up the property ladder are ideally sourced in October, well ahead of the mid-December rush, and just as manufacturers traditionally unveil new models.  

However, November is indeed the ideal time for a tech buy. But perhaps not on Black Friday itself.  

With potential savings of up to 50 per cent, says Claire Roach at discount site Money Saving Central, the early bird is on course for quite the worm.  

“Without a doubt, November is the best month to get deals, particularly on tech,” she says.  

“A lot of people make the mistake of waiting for Black Friday when the better deals are likely to be earlier on in November because retailers try to compete with Black Friday giant, Amazon.

“EBay in particular was 2019’s best place for tech deals and the people who waited until further on in the month were left disappointed. Prices weren't any better and stock was limited on highly sought after items such as the Nintendo Switch.”

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