Retailers say they hate it. People fight each other in supermarkets over it. And we end up buying stacks ofthings we probably don't need because of it. Yep, we're talking about Black Friday, or Gadget Christmas as it should probably be known.
What started as a US-only thing has become a global event, and if you're a smart shopper you really can save a packet by taking advantage of Black Friday deals - not just on Black Friday, but on Cyber Monday and during Black Friday deals week too.
It's when the great and the good of electronics retail go completely crazy and start slashing the prices of everything from computers to coffee machines, and it's arguably the most important date on the retail calendar.
When is Black Friday 2016?
But what is Black Friday, when is it this year and how do you make sure you don't get stuffed with a bargain that's too good to be true? Let's find out.
Black Friday is the Friday immediately after the US Thanksgiving holiday. That means the date for Black Friday in 2016 is Friday the 25th of November.
When is Cyber Monday 2016?
Cyber Monday is the first Monday after Thanksgiving, and after Black Friday. The date for Cyber Monday 2016 is Monday the 28th of November.
What is Black Friday anyway?
It's the starting pistol for the Christmas/holidays shopping season, and in the US it's been the day when retailers offer big bargains to get people into their stores. The internet took it online, and ASDA and Amazon helped make it a big deal in other parts of the world, notably the UK and Australia.
When is Black Friday deals week 2016?
Many retailers have extended Black Friday from a day to a weekend, but others go even further and have a whole week of Black Friday deals. That week tends to begin on the Monday immediately before Black Friday, so in 2016 Black Friday deals week will begin on the 21st of November and run through Cyber Monday on the 28th of November.
What Black Friday deals can I expect?
If Black Friday 2015 is any indication, it's a very good time to buy a laptop: last year UK retailers imported more laptops in October than at any other time in the year, and many of those machines were Black Friday bargains. We also saw seriously good Black Friday Xbox One and PS4 deals, Black Friday MacBook deals, Black Friday 4K TV deals, Black Friday iPad deals and Black Friday smartphone and tablet deals.
Console-and-game bundles were particularly prevalent, and we saw Samsung and Sony 4K Ultra HD TVs selling with discounts as big as 50%. Bose QuietComfort headlines were selling at almost half price, Beats were going for half price too and we spotted half-price deals on Roberts DAB radios, Samsung home cinema systems and a whole stack of soundbars.
We even found great Black Friday deals on coffee machines ranging from Nespresso and Tassimo machines to faintly frightening bean-to-cup machines, some of which were 50% off. When you consider that some of those machines were usually going for the best part of £1,000, getting 50% off is a pretty big bargain.
Where should I go to get the best Black Friday deals?
The short answer is online, and the even shorter answer is here - check out our Best Black Friday deals page. Every Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Black Friday deals week we hurl ourselves around all the online retailers to find the very best bargains. If you're looking for Black Friday bargains on smartphones, on tablets, on HDTV, 4K TV and HDR TV, on audio equipment and on any other kind of consumer electronics, we'll have all the deals you need to know about.
What about Cyber Monday? Are there different Cyber Monday deals?
There can be. Retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Walmart and others often ration their deals across specific days, so the range of deals on Cyber Monday is completely different to the range on Black Friday. And some retailers ignore Black Friday altogether, waiting for the sales frenzy to calm down a bit before offering their own deals. The trick is to keep visiting our Black Friday deal alert pages, because new offers are being added constantly.
Are Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday deals really bargains?
Oh, you cynic. As if retailers would artificially inflate prices in the run-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday just so that they could then discount them and call them bargains.
Um… well, yes, that does happen. We've seen it on TVs, where sets that were being offered for way below the RRP suddenly soared back up to full price in the weeks before Black Friday, dropping back to their previous sticker price on the big day. We've seen it on expensive audio kit that's sold at 50%-ish discounts all year round suddenly reverting to RRP in late October. And we've seen Black Friday deals stickers put on end-of-line stock that the retailer needs to get shot of because there's a brand new model coming in.
Despite such shenanigans and tomfoolery, though, there are still bargains to be had on Black Friday. Some deals are “doorbusters”, products sold at ridiculous discount in the hope that once you're there, you'll buy a whole bunch of other things too. Others are carefully negotiated with suppliers months in advance. And some deals are genuine cases of retailers going “to hell with it! Let's shift ALL THE THINGS!”
As with any online purchase, do your homework first. We really like Pricespy, which does an excellent job of identifying whether a bargain really is a bargain, although of course other price checking services are available. And we find it helpful to decide in advance what we want and how much we're willing to spend. We don't pick exact models - the likelihood of a specific model such as a BH55X12345EIEIO being a Black Friday bargain is pretty remote - but you might get a great deal on the BH55X12345OMG. The trick is to know your market and know roughly what a particular kind of product or set of specifications should cost.