In a Black Friday frenzy, shoppers are predicted to spend £2billion more than last year this weekend.
But experts warn that some bargains may not be quite as attractive as they appear.
Many internet retailers, including Amazon and eBay, have been running Black Friday deals for weeks.
However major retailers including Next, M&S, Wilko and B&M will not be taking part in the sales event on Friday – instead pledging to provide all-year round value instead.
Meanwhile, a dramatic surge is expected in online sales today through the weekend to Cyber Monday.
A study by the Centre for Retail Research estimates spending at online stores over the three days will hit £5.75billion – up by 53 per cent on the £3.77billion for the Black Friday weekend last year.
Many internet retailers, including Amazon and eBay, have been running Black Friday deals for weeks
Next, M&S, Wilko and B&M shun Black Friday
Three major UK retailers have announced plans to shun Black Friday.
Next, M&S, Wilko and B&M say they will not take part in the annual sale event.
They have pledged to focus on offering good value all-year round instead.
An M&S spokesperson told the BBC that it hadn’t offered any ‘specific Black Friday deals’ for the last few years.
The spokesperson added: ‘We focus on offering great value and deals throughout the whole festive season.’
Bosses at discount variety store B&M have also criticised the annual sale event, saying consumers are often ‘chasing largely deceptive offers that do not represent real savings, or are only available in very limited stocks.’
They added that not having a Black Friday would help to ‘avoid excessive crowds on any one day.’
Fleets of delivery drivers will be needed to meet the demand, leading to fears that the courier system will not be able to cope, threatening delays and disappointment.
Many supermarket delivery slots for the week before Christmas are already booked and there is a shortage of qualified drivers to deal with the tsunami of online orders. The Shopping for Christmas study predicts online spending will peak on Black Friday itself when £1.34million will be spent every minute.
Because much of the high street is closed, the report – commissioned by Vouchercodes.co.uk – predicts that spending in bricks-and-mortar shops over the weekend will be down by 63.7 per cent on last year, from £4.79billion to £1.74billion.
The figures suggest that the total spent this weekend online and on the high street could be £7.5billion.
Black Friday, a US custom in which shops slash prices to lure Christmas shoppers, falls the day after Thanksgiving, which is celebrated on the last Thursday of November.
However, experts warn that many Black Friday deals in the UK are not what they seem.
Research by Which? reveals that 85 per cent of products promoted as Black Friday deals last year had been on sale at the same price or cheaper in the weeks before.
The consumer group said shoppers should also look out for duds that come at a tempting price but still aren’t worth the money.
Which? identified a range of bargain goods, from toasters to TVs and car seats, that are of such poor quality it deems them ‘Don’t Buy’ products – some of them sold by the likes of Amazon, AO.com, Currys PC World and John Lewis.
Shops along Princes Street in Edinburgh display posters and signs advertising sales ahead of Black Friday. For the first time, Britons will spend more online this Christmas than in the high street thanks to the lockdown of non-essential stores
It said: ‘Dud deals include a stairgate that failed a key safety test, a tepid toaster and a vacuum cleaner that fails to do the dirty work.’
For example, the Hisense 65A7100FTUK LED TV, on sale at £499 at Currys PC World, had the worst picture quality Which? reviewers had seen on a 65in TV for years.
Natalie Hitchins, of Which?, said: ‘Don’t dive in when you spot a tempting deal or you could end up with a dud. Save money and time by steering clear of these Don’t Buy products.
‘To nab a quality product that will last the test of time, look beyond the special offer and check independent, thorough test results.’
Samsung Galaxy Smart Watch, Loft 25 Bean Bag Gamer Chair, Black Friday 2020 is finally here! Annual shopping extravaganza hits the UK with Amazon leading the way – and there is more than 50% off everything from tech to children’s toys
With all but essential shops still shuttered for lockdown in England and other parts of the UK, there will be no scenes of bargain-hunters fighting in the aisles over discounted flat‑screen televisions today.
Instead, the battle for Black Friday deals this year is a cyber one — with consumers heading online as they look to save money.
Experts predict record sales — £750 million today alone — and record price cuts, with shops trying to avoid being stuck with a mountain of unsold stock as the year’s second shutdown has robbed them of four weeks’ peak pre-Christmas trading.
‘This Black Friday has the potential to be the biggest yet, sitting one week closer to Christmas and coming just after pay day for a lot of people,’ says Kyle Monk, head of insight and analytics at the British Retail Consortium. ‘Nonetheless, it poses a dilemma for retailers this year, who must weigh up whether significantly reduced margins are worth the additional volume when deciding on the discounts they will offer, particularly given that stores are closed this year and that online performance this golden quarter might be make or break for some.’
And that is not the only way that lockdown is likely to influence the bargains for which we are looking.
Gadgets are top of the UK’s wish list, followed by fashion, toys and home products.
The first lockdown saw sales of bread-makers and freezers boom as panic buying set in, followed by working-from-home kit such as printers and webcams.
But now it’s all about home entertainment and shopping for Christmas presents. Indeed, online electricals retailer AO World says it is expecting to more than double the amount of televisions it sells during this year’s Black Friday event compared with last year. Chief executive John Roberts predicts his firm will sell more than 100,000 TVs, with customers able to get more than a third off some sets.
Meanwhile, eBay is expecting traffic to its website to eclipse last year, when 18 items were sold every second. Murray Lambell, general manager of eBay UK, predicts toys and entertainment items the whole family can enjoy will be particularly popular.
Inevitably, the move from physical shops to online purchases also increases the risk that shoppers may fall foul of fraudsters.
Consumers are being advised to only buy from official websites, rather than to click on links sent in scam emails designed by fraudsters to look like they come from big-name companies. Consumers are also being told to shop around for the best deals.
According to a survey by Lloyds, nearly two-thirds of consumers who intend to shop in the sales this year have actively delayed a purchase to see what discounts become available. But Which? advises that if customers don’t like the deal on offer, they would do well to wait a little longer. Research by the consumer rights’ champion found that some ‘deals’ are not all they seem, with prices actually dropping further in the weeks after Black Friday. Ahead of the sales, some firms also inflate prices to make the Black Friday discount look greater still.
Websites such as Pricerunner, PriceSpy and CamelCamelCamel (Amazon only) can be used to check a product’s price history, revealing if what has caught your eye is a genuine bargain. Feast your eyes on these welcome discounts on toys and tech.
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