Love it or loathe it, Black Friday can be a great opportunity to bag a bargain in the run up to Christmas. 

If it isn’t already circled in your calendar, in 2019, Black Friday is on 29th November, followed by Cyber Monday on 2nd December.

It’s not easy to navigate the Black Friday mayhem or find a genuine bargain. Here are some tips on how to make the most of the discounts, without breaking the bank.

Set yourself a budget

This is the first rule of Black Friday shopping. Decide on your budget – if possible, matched up against a wish list of things you need – and don’t go above it, no matter what. 

According to 2019 research from TSB, only 4% of shoppers set a budget for Black Friday spending and over a third (36%) of Brits who have shopped on Black Friday or Cyber Monday have regretted their purchases.

Do your research

Sign up to retailers’ email newsletters - you can always unsubscribe afterwards - to find out about their deals ahead of the big day. That way you can spend some time researching the products on offer and see how the prices compare. 

It’s also a good idea to spend some time reading reviews. On Friday, you might not have time to browse through them, so it’s better to do it ahead of time. 

Ideally, you’ll have researched exactly what you want - including historic prices - before braving the high street on Friday.

Focus on the price

This may sound obvious, but it’s easy to be drawn in by big percentage savings or special offers and not focus as much on the price itself. 

Many Black Friday deals are an illusion. Consumer group Which? tracked the prices of 83 products on sale on last year’s Black Friday, from six months before the date until six months after, and found that just four products (5%) were cheaper on Black Friday than at other times of the year.

For example, an Amazon Echo smart speaker on offer at £54.99 (39% off) on Amazon on Black Friday in 2018, was actually cheaper on at least 13 occasions in the run up to the discount day.

So, check prices elsewhere, or, if you can, compare prices prior to Black Friday. There are some sites that can help you do this, such as CamelCamelCamel, which provides price history for products sold on Amazon.  

Start early

If you plan to brave the high street on Friday, you might need to get there early. 

Shops often open earlier than usual - as early as 6am - if you want to get one of the really big bargains, find out about opening hours so you can be among the first customers. 

If you’re doing your bargain-hunting online, then get going as early as you can bear - many sites will start offering deals at the strike of midnight. If you’re unsuccessful on Friday, you can always try again on Cyber Monday.

The shrewdest shoppers will be doing a bit of both; using their smartphones to compare deals as they eye up bargains in bricks-and-mortar stores.

If you are entering the high street scrum, there’s one more all-important bit of advice: be courteous to your fellow shoppers, as well as the shop assistants.

Ask yourself whether you actually need it

Whether you’re shopping on the high street or online, avoid being caught up in the rush.

MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis, was quoted earlier this week advising “ask yourself, 'do I need it? Is it worth it? Have I checked if I can get it cheaper elsewhere?’ If the answer to any of them is 'no', don't buy it."

If you follow Martin’s advice, it will help you avoid impulse purchases.

Beware of scams

A quarter (24%) of UK consumers who have shopped on Black Friday or Cyber Monday say they have experienced attempts at fraud during the weekend sales in the past, according to TSB’s research.

It’s easy to get excited about a deal, but always ask yourself if it’s too good to be true. Consider whether you recognise the website and trust the retailer, TSB suggests.

Also, be aware of scam emails purporting to offer Black Friday deals. And when paying online, look for the padlock symbol in the address bar and check the domain name to ensure there’s an ‘s’ on the end of ‘http’, which indicates the site is secure. 

Abandon your online shopping basket 

Yes, you read that right, abandon it. 

This is a technique that is said to often work, but is far from guaranteed. You sign into your retailer’s website of choice, put something in your online basket and then leave the site, without paying. You might just find that the company sends you a discount code or offer later on, in order to entice you back. 

With a bit of planning and a cool head, you can ensure you get a good price on things you actually need from the Black Friday deals.

For more information about how to protect your family, home and belongings, go to Solved.