The bogus Black Friday bargains: We track dozens of prices for a year

Don’t buy on Black Friday until you read this: Everyone wonders if the online bargains are all they’re cracked up to be… so we spent a year tracking changing prices

Shopping gurus predict a boom around this year’s Black Friday as families feeling the squeeze search for the best pre-Christmas bargains.

Spending is expected to total £9billion, according to research by Vouchercodes. But how good really are the bargains on offer?

Yesterday, consumer watchdog Which? published damning research concluding that just one in ten of the deals advertised last year was a genuine saving.

This Paddington Bear Soft Toy was originally £30 at Hamleys and cost £18 on Black Friday in 2020 which is the price it stayed at until New Year. It costs £20.99 today. 

Researchers analysed deals across six retailers — Amazon, AO, Argos, Currys, John Lewis and Richer Sounds — and found some 184 of the 201 products price tracked were the same price, or even cheaper, in the six months prior to Black Friday.

But that doesn’t mean shoppers should feel they have already missed out on a bargain.

Because today, a Mail investigation reveals what happened after Black Friday last year, proving yet again that the number of genuine one-off deals worth sharpening your elbows for are, in truth, scarce.

The products monitored for pricing and discounting over the past 12 months by the Mail included TVs, computers and tech. 

But also toys, kitchen gadgets and popular beauty gifts. 

And out of the 27 items we tracked, half were found to be cheaper or as cheap at other times of the year.

For example, a Kenwood Mixer sold by Argos was reduced to £299.99 on Black Friday in 2020. But had shoppers waited until the Boxing Day sale, they could have saved themselves a further £100. 

Meanwhile at John Lewis, a coffee machine offered for £299 on Black Friday fell to £249 in the run-up to Christmas.

A further eight items, although cheapest on Black Friday, were heavily discounted in the Christmas sale period — proving yet again that the vast majority of deals are not as good as they appear to be.

The Which? study warns shoppers to take ‘time-limited’ Black Friday offers with a pinch of salt.

‘We’ve found time and again that the vast majority of deals advertised on Black Friday are not as good as the marketing hype would suggest and many are likely to be on sale at the same price or less at other times of the year,’ says Lisa Barber, editor of home products and services at Which?.

She warns that to find real bargains, shoppers need to avoid impulse purchases and carry out research using price-tracking websites.

Ossie Bayram, of price monitoring website PriceSpy, adds: ‘This year, retailers are especially keen to have a good Black Friday and Christmas period, following the past 18 months. 

We’ve seen 13 per cent of prices increase earlier this month in the build-up to Black Friday, which have now started to drop. 

This might give an illusion of discounts for Black Friday, but in reality, these prices are often the same, if not higher than months prior.’

Meanwhile, here are the results from our own Black Friday investigation . . .

 Deals that weren’t one day wonders: 

Xmas discounts nearly as good 

Black Friday really was best 


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