It’s taken me years to get my head around Black Friday. Not because I don’t understand the concept, of course – more because this is the one time of the year when I am absolutely not in the mood to buy anything remotely electrical or household-y. Christmas presents and party shoes? Yes. Bargainous bargains at once-in-a-lifetime, knock-down, stupid-not-to prices? Do I have to? I’ve got some glittery Zara pumps to buy.
This year, however, is different. I’ve decided I need to be a bit more grown-up; also, I cannot ignore my clothes dryer any more. (Basically, it’s on the blink and only runs for 20 minutes before it helpfully turns itself off, which means we have to take shifts in turning it back on. Since my dryer is in my garden shed, this is especially irritating.) So, Black Friday it is. Deep breaths. Wish me luck.
SO… DEAL OR NO DEAL?
Black Friday hasn’t been the same for a few years now. The day can be a viper’s nest of deals and non-deals, and it can be exhaustingly hard work to discern the difference between the two. As Which? confirmed yesterday after a year-long survey, six out of 10 of last year's “deals” were for products that were, in fact, cheaper or the same price at other times of the year, with Argos, Amazon and Currys PC World the main culprits.
Basically, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Some shops play tricks like raising their prices just before the sales start or putting out “new” models and, because these items haven’t been on the shelves before, giving them a fictional high start price to ramp up the discounts. Do your homework and shop around. This year, smart home tech seems to be the biggest money-off battleground, with Amazon Echo and Google Home leading the fight.
WHEN DOES BLACK FRIDAY START?
That’s the question everyone would love to know. Black Friday sales aren’t just one day any longer; they seem to be a whole week – some cleverclogs PR dubbing it “Blackfiveday” – plus they’ve already started in some places. Also, they never seem to actually end – the discounts appear to extend right up to Christmas, merge with the January sales and then limp on, right up to spring.
My main bugbear, however, is that retailers seem to be deliberately making the whole thing more complicated to get one over their rivals. Tesco and Amazon, for example, are offering deals of the day and flash “lightning deals”. I have a life, so won’t be partaking.
Also, there is a question of what actually *is* a Black Friday sale – some retailers, such as Selfridges, don’t throw themselves into the madness, but do hold sales, which they don’t actually call "sales". I know, told you it was exhausting.
SO, IS BLACK FRI-WEEK WORTH IT?
I’m aware I probably sound a bit Victor Meldrew here and I don’t mean to. You might not get the absolute exclusive bargain of a lifetime, but it is still worth a punt, especially if you want to buy one of the store’s loss leaders (the big, mega-money-off buys used by shops to lure customers in, which don’t make a profit).
Try it, too, if you’re looking for big-ticket furniture, white goods, kitchen gadgets, TVs and basics like bedlinen. And I’m only talking online, right? Surely no one actually fights their way into an actual store, do they?
ANY MORE TIPS?
Decide which stores to target and sign up for email newsletters for the first-off-the-block deals, like the Debenhams one here. Always do your research in advance. If you’re furniture shopping, make sure you know what size you want/will fit your room. Think outside the box, too – outdoor furniture can also be a nice little earner this time of year.
Below, and in my gallery, are all the deals and buys that caught my eye that are live now. However, stores and sales are all different and discounts will appear throughout the week and weekend, so my advice would be to keep looking.
One last tip: do try not to veer from your search. That super-duper premium Magimix in chrome might be an absolute steal, and will of course turn you into Nigella, but do you need it over a dryer that’s on its last legs? No, Lucy, you don’t.
BLACK FRIDAY: AN AT-A-GLANCE GUIDE
Debenhams: deals go live on Friday November 24
House of Fraser: sale is on now
One of my personal favourites – I love a bit of HOF homeware. Their sale is already on, but more will no doubt be appearing throughout the week, so check out the deals page here. They are also doing an amazing Buy One Get One Free offer on furniture. Check this out here.
NOT ON THE HIGH STREET
50 percent off selected gifts. Check out the range here.
Amara: sale is on now
Fifty per cent Black Friday early access is on now. Check here for the range.
John Lewis: deals go live on Friday November 24
Tesco: deals went live on Monday November 20
Their sale went live yesterday. Check here for daily deals that are selling out fast.
M&S: DISCOUNTS ON NOW
Apparently they won't partaking in Back Friday, although check their deals page for discounts.
Very.co.uk: deals go live on Friday November 24
Check the page here. There are also early deals already up.
Laura Ashley: deals go live on Friday November 24
Starts 24 November, but in the meantime there is 30 per cent off furniture here.
Habitat: sale is on now
Their seasonal sale has discounts on kitchenware, sofas and garden furniture (50 per cent off). More will drop this Thursday with up to 50 per cent off selected products.
Sofa.com: FLASH SALES AND deals WHICH WILL go live on Friday November 24
Ten per cent off all sofas as well as a free pair of scatter cushions.
Pooky: Sales starts Tuesday 21st November
Twenty per cent for orders over £200, 17 per cent reduction for orders up to £200.
Cuckooland: sale is on now
It has already started its Black Friday sale and I am liking what I see. Check it out here./
While Trouva is not anti Black Friday, they are using it as an opportunity to do something different. They've partnered with social enterprise, ARTHOUSE Meath to run a Bright Black Friday campaign. On Friday they will be encouraging customers to shop from their boutique as 100 per cent of profits made from sales during the 24 hours will go directly back to the charity to support and nurture the talents of these individuals.