Bargain hunters planning a Black Friday shopping spree are being warned deals are not what they are cracked up to be.
An investigation by consumer watchdog Which? has revealed that nine out of 10 products in Black Friday offers were the same price or cheaper in the six months before the event.
Some items cost less or the same in the run up to the four day sales weekend – and even six months after it.
Which? said Currys had the poorest overall record with prices as all 32 products it tracked failed to live up the word “bargain” as they had previously been cut to match the Black Friday price.
But the research also found John Lewis had “one of the worst individual deals” – a Zanussi washing machine that was cheaper than its Black Friday price on 88 different days before the day itself.
Which? found while it had been cut to £309 on Black Friday, shoppers could have snapped it up for £60 less at £249 five months before and for £289 just a month after.
According to the consumer champion, another “dubious deal” was a Bush dual fuel range cooker at Argos which was knocked down from £499.99 to £449.99 but was the same price 66 times before and 19 times after Black Friday.
Worringly, the study found a quarter of Black Friday shoppers looking for deals on electrical appliances did not do any homework beforehand such as checking prices elsewhere before buying.
Similarly, one in three failed to do any research before buying baby and child products and one in five took tech offers at face value.
But Which? said 98.5% of the products tracked were cheaper or the same price at some stage six months after Black Friday compared with 92% which were the same or lower price before the event.
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It said: “In some cases shoppers may be better off biding their time and waiting for the price of a product to fall further.”
The consumer watchdog is urging shoppers to do their homework before being drawn in by the hype around popular products from TVs and washing machines to soundbars and toys.
Ele Clark, Which? retail editor, said: “Our latest investigation has shown that the vast majority of Black Friday deals are not as good as they appear to be, which is why it’s so important to do your research before diving into the sales.
“Take time to identify the products you really want and check that the ‘deal’ you’re seeing represents a genuine saving.
“That way, you can beat the hype and be confident that you’ll emerge from the Black Friday sales with quality products that will last for years to come, and all for a bargain price.”
Currys said 98% of its products were “equal to or at their cheapest price from the previous six months”.
A spokesperson added: “At Currys we pride ourselves on offering great prices all year round, particularly during the Black Friday period.
“Black Friday represents one of the best times for customers to shop with us over the year. With our unique price promise, we won’t be beaten on price. Full stop. This applies even during the Black Friday period.”
John Lewis said: “As a participating retailer in Black Friday, we offer fantastic deals across technology, home, beauty and fashion – these are just some of the many promotions our customers can take advantage of throughout the year.”
It added the offers highlighted by Which? were part of its “Never Knowingly Undersold” price promise “where we match high street competitors and continuously monitor prices to offer great value all year round”.
An Argos spokesperson said: “We’re committed to offering our customers a wide range of products at great prices throughout the year and our Black Friday deals are no exception.”
Amazon said: “Our Black Friday sale is about thousands of deals on a huge selection of products from every category across the site, at a time of year when we know saving money is important to our customers.
“And the best thing about shopping online is that customers can easily compare prices, allowing them to make an informed purchase decision.”
And ao.com said: “It was only less than 10 years ago that customers paid full price until after Christmas, but Black Friday now brings them lower prices when they need them.
Customers can get deals all year round at AO and Black Friday is the biggest opportunity to get genuine, great value deals alongside our year-round price match guarantee.”
Six deals that were cheaper before or after Black Friday last year
- A Maxi-Cosi Titan toddler/child car seat at amazon.co.uk was down from £199 to £139.95, but Which? found it was cheaper on three days in the six months before Black Friday and 38 days in the six months afterwards.
- A Morphy Richards 162008 pour over filter coffee maker at amazon.co.uk was down from £54.99 to £41.99 at Amazon but Which? found it was cheaper than the Black Friday price 21 times in the six months before Black Friday and the same price 45 times afterwards
- A Numatic Henry cylinder vacuum cleaner was down from £139 to £99 at Currys but Which? found it was the same price 53 times before and 81 times after Black Friday.
- An Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 bluetooth waterproof portable speaker down from £89.99 to £69.99 at John Lewis but Which? found it was the same price 79 times in the six months before Black Friday and cheaper or the same price 118 times in the six months after.
- An LG SL5Y bluetooth sound bar was down from £249 to £199 at John Lewis but Which? found it was the same price 79 times before Black Friday and 87 times after.
- A Samsung QLED QE65Q700TA 65 inch smart 8K TV at ao.com was down from £2,299 to £1,999 but Which? found it was cheaper 136 times after Black Friday, including going down by £200 to £1,799 less than a month later.