You've no doubt noticed that Black Friday is nearly upon us again - that day (actually more like a week) when retailers try and shift as many of their products as physically possible on to the public. There are plenty of bargains to be had, but also some traps to watch out for.
As you'll know if you've been in the scouts or the guides, being well prepared is key if you want to make sure you're getting the deal and not the con of the day. Fortunately, we've put together a comprehensive guide to what to look out for if you want to stay on track.
UK BLACK FRIDAY RETAILER QUICK LINKS
- Amazon Black Friday
- Very.co.uk Black Friday
- John Lewis Black Friday
- Currys Black Friday
- Argos Black Friday
- Tesco Direct Black Friday
- AO.com Black Friday
- Carphone Warehouse Black Tag deals
- Mobiles.co.uk Black Friday
US BLACK FRIDAY RETAILER QUICK LINKS
Don't get carried away
We're huge fans of Black Friday but just because we enjoy picking up a bargain doesn't mean we completely lose all capacity for rational thought.
Retailers are likely to put the biggest discounts on the kit they're most eager to shift, so don't whip out your credit card as soon as you spot a rock-bottom price: it doesn't hurt to take a few minutes to pause and consider whether you really do need a new microwave.
Hunting for Black Friday bargains can be a thrill but don't get drawn in by the excitement of it all – remember that nowadays deals are spread over several days, so if you don't grab something on Black Friday there's always Cyber Monday (or the January sales).
If you're off out to the high street for some bargain hunting it can be more difficult to keep your cool but remember that just because a television set is causing a stampede in aisle 3 three doesn't mean it's actually any good.
Of course, you don't want to be too cautious, otherwise you might miss out on some great savings – but keep your wits about you.
Compare multiple deals
If you're after a particularly popular gadget or piece of tech kit, the good news is that there are likely to be plenty of stores with deals on – don't feel like you have to jump at the first bargain price you see, because others shops will have some impressive discounts too.
We might be slightly biased, but look for round-ups of deals based around items you're interested in (just like the ones on T3.com), whether that's TV deals, laptop deals or perhaps some nice Le Creuset cookware deals.
In other words, don't just jump at the first cut-price deal you see for your favourite gadget. Retailers will be trying to outdo each other for the whole of Black Friday and beyond, so you're in a strong position and holding all the cards.
Comparing deals across sites or between stores also helps you to spot any obvious scams – if a site is offering something for a price that's substantially less than everyone else, proceed with caution. If a deal seems too good to be true, it occasionally is.
Wherever possible, then, take in a broad range of sites and retailers when doing your shopping – as an added bonus there's a good chance you'll come across deals you wouldn't otherwise have seen.
Do your research
Retailers very often include the latest and greatest tech in their Black Friday deals, but at the same time they know the hottest gadgets will sell any day of the year – so they may also use the occasion of Black Friday to shift some less desirable stuff as well.
To stay one step ahead, do your research on the current state of the market in the areas you're interested in, like tablets or laptops or whatever you're buying.
This is easier said than done in some product categories – there are so many TVs on the market it can be hard to tell one from the other – but at least have an idea about the specs you should be looking out for so you don't get stuck with a piece of kit that's going to be almost obsolete in a couple of months. Our TV reviews should help you out here.
Take phones, for example: how long has the model been out for? When is it likely to be replaced? Does it have the power and the capacity you need? Even the biggest brand names have some products that are more desirable than others.
Of course if you're happy with slightly older tech, or tech that's about to be replaced, then you can grab yourself some very big price savings – just be aware of what you're getting.
Check the small print
As you'll know if you've picked up any big ticket items in recent months, deals are often about more than just the huge price label whacked on top of whatever product you're interested in buying.
Does it come with a warranty? Are there any accessories thrown in? Is your email address going to be bombarded with special offers for the next 12 months? And so on.
Make sure you always read the small print, even if you're worried about missing out on something you've set your heart on – after all, if there's a hefty delivery bill or VAT to be added on top, the the deal might not be quite as good as you first thought.
The returns and refunds policy is something else to keep an eye out for: for extra peace of mind you might want to make sure you can return your purchase and get your money back if you end up not liking it.
This is another area where you can do your research in advance by checking out policies and small print online.
We don't want to spoil your fun, we're just making sure it lasts – happy shopping!