Black Friday is almost upon us. The annual sales bonanza takes place on 27 November this year, with Cyber Monday following on 30 November.
It’s fair to say that the retail event will be a little different this year, with many people turning to online shopping as a result of the national lockdown in England, plus social distancing restrictions across the rest of the UK.
But if that hasn’t put you off and you’re still determined to grab a bargain, here are 15 top tips to help you prepare for the big event.
1. Start your research early
It pays to have an idea of what you want to buy before Black Friday begins, so take the time to do a little research in advance.
According to consumer group Which?, 18% of Black Friday shoppers in 2016 didn’t read the reviews of the products they bought beforehand, so plan ahead to reduce the chance of you buying something you later wish you hadn’t.
2. Make a list of what you plan to buy
It’s easy to be swayed by big discounts and buy items you don’t actually need, so once you’ve decided what you want to buy, make a list of these items to help you to stay focused.
Some retailer websites let you create ‘wishlists’ which can make it easier (and quicker) to check whether the products you want to buy have been reduced in price, without having to sift through hundreds of other items to get there.
It’s also worth listing out which retailers sell the same product so that you have a back-up plan in the event a retailer runs out of stock.
3. Set a budget
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and spend more than you were bargaining on, so set aside a pot of money (even if only mentally) that you’re happy to spend on Black Friday items and make sure you stick to it.
4. Use the right credit card
Paying by credit card means that you can benefit from important purchase protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
This means that if you buy something costing between £100 and £30,000, your card provider is jointly liable with the retailer if the item is faulty or doesn’t turn up. This also applies if you’ve only paid a deposit on the card.
Additionally, it pays to use the right type of credit card. If you’d like a bit of breathing space when it comes to paying back what you owe, it’s worth using a 0% purchase credit card.
This type of card allows you to stretch payments over several months interest-free – just make sure you clear your balance before the 0% deal ends and interest is charged.
If you don’t need to spread out your payments and can afford to pay off your balance in full each month it can be worth using a reward credit card instead. These allow you to earn loyalty points at your favourite retailers, airmiles that can be redeemed on flights or holidays, or cashback.
Cashback rates are often tiered, and you’ll earn a higher rate of cashback the more you spend. However, you shouldn’t let this encourage you to spend more than you can afford to pay back – if you are unable to clear your balance in full each month the amount of interest you’ll be charged will far outweigh any of the benefits of the card.
Also be sure to check for annual fees before you apply for your card.
If you don’t have time to switch credit card and you end up spending more than you can afford to pay back in full, it’s worth moving your debt to a 0% balance transfer credit card, which will allow you to pay back your debt interest-free for a set time.
Just watch out for transfer fees and make sure you repay your debt before the 0% offer ends.
5. Set up online accounts in advance
To make your life easier, it’s worth setting up online accounts with the retailers you plan to shop with ahead of the big day. By doing so, your billing and delivery address details will already be saved, as will your payment information, so checking out will be quick and easy.
Just make sure you use a strong password if you’re planning to save payment details, and don’t use the same password for each retailer.
6. Check out social media
It can be worth following your favourite retailers and brands on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to ensure you’re one of the first to hear about any discounts or special offers. You might even be able to take advantage of exclusive offers by liking or following certain posts.
A word of warning though – if you’re messaged directly about a particular deal that asks you to click on a link and provide personal details, it’s probably a scam. If in any doubt whatsoever, don’t click, as fraudsters love Black Friday just as much as bargain-hunters.
7. Sign up to newsletters
Signing up to your favourite retailers’ newsletters (if you haven’t already) will often net you 10% or 15% off your first purchase. Some might also give you early access to Black Friday discounts.
If you’re concerned about receiving an overwhelming number of emails, you could set up a separate email address just for promotional use, or simply unsubscribe once Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over.
8. Look out for early bird discounts
Although Black Friday is officially on 27 November, many retailers start a day or two early and this year, due to the pandemic, some retailers are running deals for the whole month. This means it’s well worth keeping your eyes peeled now in case you spot a good deal.
9. Shop around
Before making a purchase, search for the product on Google Shopping or through comparison sites such as PriceRunner and Kelkoo as these will tell you whether you can find the same item for less elsewhere.
Amazon shoppers can also benefit from using tracker service Camelcamelcamel which will show you the price history of millions of Amazon products and help you decide whether you’re getting a good deal.
If you’re planning to hit the shops in person, providing you have a data allowance on your smartphone, you can also run a quick internet search before heading to the checkout to make sure you can’t get a better deal online.
10. Check for discount codes
To grab an even bigger bargain, scan the internet for discount codes using sites such as vouchercodes.co.uk, myvouchercodes.co.uk and hotukdeals. Note, however, that some codes won’t be able to be used on items that are already discounted.
11. Make the most of abandoned basket discounts
Some retailers will offer discounts if you leave items in your online basket without completing the purchase.
To do this, you’ll need to log into your account, add an item to your basket and then close the browser window. You may receive an email from the retailer either later that day or the following one, offering money off to encourage you to complete your purchase.
Be warned though – this won’t happen every time or with every retailer, so you may only want to try this on purchases you’re not 100% set on. If it’s something you really want, this strategy may be too risky.
12. Watch out for delivery charges
If buying online, check whether you’ll be charged for delivery and how much this will set you back.
Some retailers will offer free delivery providing you spend a certain amount, but try not to be persuaded to spend more than you otherwise would have. There may also be the option to have your item(s) delivered to your nearest store free of charge.
13. Know your rights
When shopping online it’s important to know your rights when it comes to returning a product if you’ve changed your mind about it, if it’s faulty or if it simply doesn’t turn up.
Fortunately, thanks to the Consumer Rights Act 2015, consumers are entitled to claim a return of payment or replacement of goods if the delivered item doesn’t meet specific criteria. To find out more, take a look at our guide to your online shopping rights.
14. Use a cashback website
It’s also worth checking whether you can earn something back on your purchases by using a cashback website such as Quidco, My Money Pocket or TopCashback. These enable you to earn a percentage of your spend back when you shop at certain retailers.
Until 30 November, TopCashback is offering new members £15 cashback on any purchase of £15 or more.
15. Shop online safely
Finally, it’s important to stay safe and be on the lookout for scams when shopping online. You can do this by:
- using trusted websites or checking reviews of websites you’re less familiar with
- using long and different passwords for each retailer
- checking for the padlock symbol in the address bar next to the website address
- checking the website address starts with https:// – the ‘s’ stands for secure
- avoiding public Wi-Fi to shop online as it is often unsecure, and your personal information can be easily accessed by fraudsters
- being wary of adverts or messages asking you to click on links and provide personal details
- remembering the old adage if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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