The last Friday of November is traditionally what markets predict as the busiest shopping day before the Christmas period. So-called Black Friday has, in recent years, become synonymous with viral images and videos of scrambling shoppers scrapping over half price televisions and coffee machines. It’s a retail phenomenon that is now somewhat unavoidable. However, we have some hints on how to avoid the scraps and still save.
The classic tips still apply here: make a list, don’t panic buy, no hair pulling, that sort of thing. But here’s how to truly Hack Black Friday.
Rome wasn’t built in a day…
Although the majority of the focus falls on the actual Friday, many retailers use it as an excuse to extend their offers. Some invite customers to purchase before or after the actual day in order to prolong predicted spending patterns, some of our favourites include:
- Curry’s black tag event running across 10 days (including Black Friday)
- B&Q ran their Black Friday promotion last year until December 1st
- Ebay run their event for 10 days
- House of Fraser’s 6-day event
You could also hold out the cyber splurging until December 15th, also known as National Free Shipping Day – which could save you plenty purely on delivery charges.
Preparation is key
Much like a military operation, hacking black Friday requires serious forward planning, part of which means you should pick your favourite websites ahead of time and subscribe to their mailing list. It’s an oldie but a goodie. Subscribing to a mail out may well cause you some unsightly inbox notifications for a couple of weeks, but it can be catered to your specific shopping habits and gives you the opportunity to have those all-important deals sent straight to you, avoiding a 12 hour ‘refresh this page’ sit in. Most big-name brands are planning plenty of pre-sale and early offers, as well as offering their loyal subscribers the ability to pre-order some of their best bargains.
Don’t wait, save all year round
Our retail society is a fast and ever-growing market, littered with gimmicks, as the fight to stay retail relevant rumbles on, we, the consumer, get to cash in. Sites like Groupon, Vouchercloud and Wowcher provide daily offers, unaffected by Black Friday madness. Subscribe to any one of these and you’ll find all manner of lifestyle, beauty and travel goodies sent straight to your smartphone. If it’s fashion you’re interested in and you don’t mind a bit of bargain hunting, why not give smart sale apps like depop or shpock a go. Now, cast aside your aspersions of hand me downs and road bikes missing a front wheel, the second-hand marketplace has become a pillar of online consumerism in its own right. Although you can’t filter your needs or get more than one size, you may just bag a bargain without needing to prep for all-out retail warfare.
Amongst the chaos, it’s easy to forget that we as the consumer are often subject to a fair amount of hoodwinking from brands. Last year, the usually squeaky-clean John Lewis received a serious slap on the wrist from the Advertising Standards Agency for listing an apple watch as part of their Black Friday promotion at almost half the retail price, yet the brand avoided any actual sales by listing the product as out of stock, only for it to return to stock the very next day, at its original (significantly higher) price.
Asda have still yet to announce whether they will participate in this year’s Black Friday, after images in 2014 surfaced of violent shoppers scrambling over discounted TV’s and the household brand name suffered publicly prompting them to opt out of the bedlam the following two years running.
Sack Black Friday
In 2017 we’re seeing increasing anti-consumerism trends emerging. Customers don’t often trust certain brands or discounts and with the popularity of the heavily varied online marketplace, it’s easier to shop around and get a better deal.
Not only that but social trends have seen a huge increase in consumers choosing to give back rather than spend, Lush cosmetics have traditionally paved the way for charitable acts which capitalise on the popularity of Black Friday. Last year they created a product specifically for the occasion of which, all profits were donated to charity. In a similar way to food outlet Pieminister, who opened 10 of their UK stores and gave away surplus stock in exchange for donations to housing charity Shelter.
We know that Christmas is a serious bone of contention. Some will start buying in January and save the wrapping paper from last year’s spread, while others will avoid all mention of the word until it reaches crisis point and they’re panic-buying on Christmas Eve in the local shop.
Black Friday has its benefits and, when done right, it can offer you significant savings for one of the most important holidays of the year. However, don’t fall victim to the pitfalls of such a market-driven event. After all the day is fuelled by the needs of the retailers and the necessity to extend and stimulate seasonal spending. The vast nature of our retail world now means that with a little research and planning you can beat Black Friday at its own game.