Only one in seven Black Friday deals offer an actual discount, and the vast majority of promotions are cheaper or at the same price in the six months leading up to the sales event, a study found.
Which? analyzed 214 Black Friday deals last year across seven major retailers – Amazon, AO, Argos, Currys, John Lewis, Richer Sounds and Very – and looked at their prices each day in the six months before and after last year’s event on 26 November.
The watchdog found that 183 (86%) were cheaper or the same as their Black Friday price in the six months leading up to the event and 209 (98%) were cheaper or the same price at other times of the year.
Our research shows that finding a good deal on Black Friday is like looking for a needle in a haystack
Nothing was cheaper only on Black Friday.
Which? concluded that while there were some deals to be had on Black Friday, real discounts “were often rare”.
Ahead of this year’s Black Friday on November 25, Which? urged consumers not to “buy into the hype” without carefully examining whether items were really worth buying and that the “marked-down” price represented real savings.
In an example, Which? found a Zanussi ZHB62670XA chimney hood £239 on Black Friday 2021 at John Lewis, saving £30, but had been the same price since 9 November and was reduced to £160 for two weeks in August.
It only rose to £269 on October 13, meaning the £30 so-called saving wasn’t a worthwhile deal.
Also with John Lewis, Which? found a Bosch KIR81VSF0G fridge for £869 which fell in price by £20 less than a week later. It remained at the lower price every day until February 23 this year.
A Leisure KIR81VSF0G freestanding electric cooker cost £969 at AO on Black Friday last year with a saving of £30. However, it stayed at this price until December 23 when it fell further. Which? found that it only returned to above its pre-Black Friday price in February.
Very offered a Toshiba 43UL2163DBC TV on Black Friday last year for £279, with a claimed saving of £100. However, which one? found out it had cost £379 for just three days in the month before Black Friday. It remained at £279 until December 22, when it dropped further to £275.
Even when discounts are factored into the two weeks around Black Friday, which ones? found that 186 (87%) of deals had a lower or equal price at another time.
The watchdog named Amazon and Very the “worst retailers overall for questionable discounts,” with more than 70% of products included in Which? are included, are cheaper at other times of the year compared to their Black Friday price.
Which? retail editor Reena Sewraz 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’re likely to find the things you’re looking for at the same price or cheaper as we head towards Christmas, the New Year and beyond.
“Retailers are not blind to the added strain on people’s finances this year and will be happy to use Black Friday to attract people who want to get the most out of their money, so we can still expect some deals. Our advice is to take the time to do some research if you really want to find a bargain.”
We are committed to offering our customers a wide range of products at great prices all year round and our Black Friday deals are no exception
A spokesperson for the AO said: “The internet is almost always the cheapest place to buy electrical appliances and our more than 350,000 four-star-plus Trustpilot reviews show it’s a better way to buy the category too. Black Friday itself remains just one part of the many deals we offer customers throughout the year.”
A spokeswoman for John Lewis said: “The offers referenced in this research were a result of our never knowingly undersold price match promise which was in effect until earlier this year where we had the same prices as high street competitors all year round.
“We discontinued Never Knowingly Undersold in August and are investing £500m – 25% more than last year – so that all our customers can benefit from great quality and value for money, whether they shop in-store or online.”
Argos said: “We are committed to offering our customers a wide range of products at great prices all year round and our Black Friday deals are no exception.”
An Amazon spokesperson said: “We try to give our customers great value for money thanks to low prices all year round and some fantastic seasonal offers.
“Our Black Friday sale offers thousands of deals from every category on the site at a time of year when we know saving money is important to our customers.”
Richer Sounds chief executive Julie Abraham said: “Black Friday is now an event that takes up most of November. For their research, Which? used just one day of Black Friday as the basis for their price comparison. Our prices for Black Friday events are available to customers from the beginning of November, so it’s inevitable that some compared prices will have been the same in the days leading up to Black Friday.
“With regard to post-Black Friday prices, we can only determine prices before Black Friday with the information we have at that time. After that, manufacturers may have excess inventory to move, or other market determinants will keep some prices low and we are always pleased to offer our customers an expanded opportunity to save.”