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Why Black Friday deals are not as good as they seem

Only 5% of deals on Black Friday will actually offer products at their cheapest, according to a new report from consumer group Which?

Black Friday, an American celebration on the first Friday following Thanksgiving, is increasingly gaining traction in the UK as a method of firing the starting gun on the Christmas shopping season.

An investigation by the consumer rights group has urged shoppers to do their research before buying any products which appear to be on sale.

John Lewis and Partners in Oxford street
Image: John Lewis was among the retailers offering questionable ‘deals’

The organisation tracked the prices of 83 products which went on sale on Black Friday last year for six months before the big sales day, and found that all but four (or 5%) were cheaper at other times during that period.

Retailers including Currys PC World, Amazon and John Lewis were scrutinised in the report. Although there is no evidence that any of them broke the law, Which? warns that shoppers might be confused by sales that aren’t as good as they seem.

Among the so-called “deals” that Which? uncovered was a Samsung HW-MS650 soundbar selling for £299 at Currys PC World on Black Friday.

“Within a month the price dropped by £49 for at least five days. What’s more, it was £279.97 at least 13 times in the six months after Black Friday,” said Which.

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John Lewis was selling the De’Longhi Autentica Cappucino Bean-to-Cup coffee machine for £399 on Black Friday – but it had been available for at least £368 on 35 days before then.

The Amazon Echo smart speaker was on offer for £54.99 on Black Friday last year – which the company claimed amounted to 39% off – but it had been cheaper on at least 13 days before then as well.

A general view of an Amazon Echo smart speaker. Amazon's Alexa is set to answer people's health queries by searching the official NHS website.
Image: An Amazon Echo smart speaker had been available for less than on Black Friday

Natalie Hitchins, the head of home products and services at Which?, said: “We have repeatedly shown that ‘deals’ touted by retailers on Black Friday are not as good as they seem.

“Time-limited sales can be a good opportunity to bag a bargain, but don’t fall for the pressure tactics around Black Friday,” Ms Hitchins added.

“Our investigation indicates that this popular shopping event is all hype and there are few genuine discounts,” she concluded.

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