The truth about Black Friday: Is it all a con?

The truth about Black Friday: Is it all a con?
Written by Sarah Banks
Published on 30th November 2023
Share this guide
It’s probably already marked in your diary, but this year Black Friday falls on 24th November and it’s set to be a big one. With retailers such as ASOS, Mothercare, Amazon and Boots already confirming their participation, consumers will be flocking online and in store to bag themselves the best deals. The question is, are you really picking up excellent deals, or are Black Friday deals not quite all they seem?

Why is Black Friday a thing?

Usually the day after Thanksgiving in the US, Black Friday marks the unofficial start to the Christmas shopping season. Retailers mark items with heavy discounts and deals to entice shoppers looking for a Christmas bargain, sometimes at the expense of their own profits.

With its origins in the US during the 1960s, its name comes from the idea that stores’ accounts and books moved from ‘red’ to ‘black’, when they began to make profit from their sales. As time went on, it became obvious that these flash sales drew huge crowds and now retailers are even announcing special deals, coupons and prices, to raise anticipation and give shoppers a chance to plan their purchases.

Amazon brought Black Friday to the UK in 2010 and we’ve been suckers for it ever since.

The pros and cons of Black Friday

So what makes it so great?

Big ticket items such as TVs, computers, smartphones and wearable tech are usually up for grabs, but you’ll need to be quick as they’re always popular.

Christmas costs are cut - you can pick up presents, decorations and even food for a fraction of the cost, so if you know what you’re going to get your loved ones, you can be armed with a list ready to shop around.

You can grab bargains right from the comfort of your own home (or office), even during the middle of the night. With exclusive online deals, you can search, compare prices and research to find the best price, all while you avoid squabbling with other shoppers.

However, it’s not all good news. There are some cons to Black Friday that you should watch out for…

  • The battle of the crowds - if you’re going to hit the shops instead of your keyboard, you’ll have to deal with the hustle and bustle of other shoppers, even if you’ve flocked to store for 5am.
  • Not all retailers take part. In 2016, power-retailers such as Ikea, Next, Homebase and Asda left shoppers disappointed, as they refused to slash prices and take part.
  • Deals may not be all they seem. It’s been reported that the deals are no better than those throughout the year, but shoppers get caught up in the Black Friday excitement and think they’re exclusive.

How does Black Friday affect the economy?

Looking at the Black Friday statistics from last year, it’s clear to see that there is certainly a boom in shopping during the weekend. In 2016, Britons spent a phenomenal £5.8 billion over the period between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. During the 24 hours of Black Friday, it was estimated that there was £1.27 billion spent online, 16% more than 2015.

Are the Black Friday sales actually worth it?

It was reported by Salesforce Commerce Cloud that UK retailers were more reserved with their discounting than other countries. UK prices were cut by just an average of 9%, compared to the US (29%), Canada (36%) and France (26%).

Even so, although some retailers may promote lower prices for the whole seasonal period, if you have specific products in mind then you could save money during the Black Friday sales, but you’ll need to be smart. Research beforehand so you can shop around and find the best price to fit within your predetermined budget.

You could also pay for your items using a credit card, which will provide you with purchase protection should you need to make any returns or if anything goes wrong. Make sure you pay off the balance in full when the payment is due, otherwise you could find yourself in debt for the new year.

Happy shopping!

Find Loans

Use the Choose Wisely Eligibility Checker to find a suitable lender in just a few minutes, without impacting your credit score.

Sarah Banks
Written by
Sarah Banks
Finance writer at Choose Wisely

Sarah joined Choose Wisely in July 2017, whilst still studying for her degree. Learning the ropes across different departments in the business including Customer Service Advisor for a period of time- making her the company’s closest link to their consumers experience with their finances.