Only one in seven deals on Black Friday offers a genuine discount, with the vast majority of promotions cheaper or the same price in the six months before the sales event, an investigation has found.
The consumer group Which? monitored more than 200 Black Friday promotions last year at seven major retailers – Amazon, AO, Argos, Currys, John Lewis, Richer Sounds and Very – looking at their prices every day in the six months before and after Black Friday.
It found that 86 per cent of the deals were actually cheaper than or the same as their Black Friday price in the six months before the sales event and 98 per cent were cheaper or the same price at other times of the year. None was cheaper on Black Friday alone.
The consumer group said finding a good deal on Black Friday was like “looking for a needle in a haystack” and urged shoppers “not to fall for the hype”.
Its research is timely because another study published last week suggested that Britons intended to spend more over the Black Friday weekend than in previous years, because they were so desperate to find bargains before Christmas.
In one example highlighted by Which?, a Zanussi chimney cooker hood was £239 on Black Friday in 2021 at John Lewis, with a £30 saving. But it had been the same price since November 9, and had been £160 for a fortnight in August.
Which? also found a Bosch fridge promoted as a Black Friday deal at John Lewis for £869, only for the product to be reduced by £20 less than a week later. It stayed at the lower price until February 23 this year.
Elsewhere, the consumer group found that a Toshiba TV promoted at £279 by Very on Black Friday last year, with a claimed £100 saving, had been £379 for just three days the month before. Then, right before Christmas, the price dropped further, to £275.
Which? said that Amazon and Very were the worst retailers overall for dubious discounts.
Reena Sewraz, its retail editor, said: “Our research shows that finding a good deal on Black Friday is like looking for a needle in a haystack. It’s rarely the cheapest time to shop and you’ll probably find the things you want are the same price or cheaper as we head towards Christmas, the New Year and beyond.
“Retailers are not blind to the extra pressures on people’s finances this year and will be keen to use Black Friday to attract people looking to get the most for their money, so we should still expect some deals. Our advice is to take the time to do some research if you want to find a genuine bargain.”
A spokesman for John Lewis said: “We have great offers all year round. The offers referred to in this research were as a result of our Never Knowingly Undersold price match pledge, which applied until earlier this year, where we price matched high street competitors throughout the year. We retired Never Knowingly Undersold this August and are investing £500 million — 25 per cent higher than last year — so all our customers can benefit from great quality and value, whether they shop in store or online.”
Amazon said: “We seek to offer our customers great value thanks to low prices all year round as well as a number of fantastic seasonal deals events. Our Black Friday sale offers thousands of deals from every category across the site at a time of year when we know saving money is important to our customers.”
Very did not respond to the request to comment.
Black Friday is on November 25 this year. The sales event is an import from America, and falls on the day after Thanksgiving.