What is Black Friday?
It’s just been that time of year again, where eager Christmas shoppers who are looking for massive savings on everything from toasters to tellies, rush to make the most of limited timed offers and scarce stock.
I’m of course referring to Black Friday, an American tradition that has since spread almost globally thanks to an increasingly Americanised media presence in the form of TV and movie entertainment. Taking place yearly on the first Friday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday is a day that represents the beginning of the Christmas shopping period and is normally used by retailers as a chance to drive up the number of shoppers by providing ‘discounts’ on nearly everything.
What is Cyber Monday?
Cyber Monday takes place on the Monday after Black Friday weekend and it’s essentially a more modern take on it. Online retailers use the day to host and promote their own sales that are available exclusively online.
Black Friday hysteria
In recent years, it has become increasingly common for shoppers to get into physical altercations in an effort to secure products that they believe to be of limited availability thanks to the supposed ‘incredible’ discounts. In the United States alone, it has been reported that there have been 10 deaths and 111 injuries in relation to Black Friday since 2006. It’s also not unheard of for people to camp out in front of stores to try and secure a place in line to buy the items they’re after.
Whilst not as prevalent as cases in the States, there have been instances of Black Friday related rioting in the United Kingdom. In 2014, an Asda store in London was a scene of chaos as Black Friday shoppers trampled over one another and fights broke out due to a discounted TV among other items. Is any of this madness justified? Are the deals present across Black Friday weekend really that good? The answer may surprise you.
Fake Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals
Retailers don’t set up these masses of deals for the fun of it. Their sole intent is to attract publicity and drum up the number of shoppers. Because of this, some retailers might use certain methods to delude consumers into believing they’re getting a better deal than they truly are.
One such practice that might slip past your radar is the increase in price prior to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
If you weren’t closely monitoring certain items before they were ‘on sale’, you might not have noticed their price increase weeks or even in the month before Black Friday weekend. By subtly increasing the price over time, they can discount it to the original price when the sale is on, leading the unaware to believe they’ve made the most of a sale when in reality they’ve paid the original price.
Another method that retailers use to gain Black Friday and Cyber Monday hype is something called the ‘bait and switch’. This affects Cyber Monday more than Black Friday but it’s relevant to both days. You may not be familiar with this trick as it’s relatively recent, but it involves retailers changing the price of an item as you try to pay for it online. The intent is to get the consumer invested enough in buying the product that when they’re informed that the original price they saw was a ‘mistake’, they’ll buy it anyway.
Are Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases worth it?
Of course, not every deal you see is too good to be true, and many are genuine offers, but should you pull the trigger on them? You might be under the impression that these days are the only time where you’ll find certain products with such low prices, but you could be surprised to find out that it’s not unheard of for them to be sold for even less in January.
In 2017, Which? looked at 94 products that were discounted as part of a Black Friday sale and then tracked the prices of those products from the previous six months and the six months following Black Friday. Through doing this, it was revealed that a large majority of the products (87%) had been at the same price or even cheaper than their Black Friday price at other times of the year. 46% of the products became cheaper than their Black Friday price on at least one day in the six months after Black Friday.
36% of the products were at the same price as their Black Friday sale at other times of the year, which left only 13% of these products having their cheapest price on Black Friday. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that this kind of data can also be applied to the deals that present themselves online during Cyber Monday. Knowing this information should hopefully play a part when you’re trying to decide whether you really should splurge on that gadget or gizmo, or just wait a while before you do.