Just one in seven Black Friday deals offer a genuine discount and the vast majority of promotions are cheaper or the same price in the six months before the sales event, a consumer watchdog has found.
Which? analysed 214 Black Friday deals last year across seven major retailers, including Amazon, AO, Argos, Currys, John Lewis, Richer Sounds and Very, and concluded that although there were some deals to be had on Black Friday, genuine discounts were “often few and far between”.
The watchdog looked at prices every day in the six months before and after last year’s event on 26 November and found 183 (86%) were cheaper or the same as the Black Friday price in the six months before the event. It also found that 209 (98%) were cheaper or the same price at other times in the year. None were cheaper on Black Friday alone.
Ahead of this year’s Black Friday on 25 November 25, Which? has urged consumers not to “fall for the hype” and advised customers to carefully examine if the “discounted” price offered is a genuine saving.
Which items did not actually have a “discounted” price?
Which? found a Zanussi ZHB62670XA chimney cooker hood was £239 on Black Friday in 2021 at John Lewis, with a £30 saving. However, it had been the same price since 9 November and was reduced to £160 for a fortnight in August.
It only increased to £269 on 13 October. This means that the so-called £30 saving did not amount to a worthwhile deal.
Also at John Lewis, Which? found a Bosch KIR81VSF0G fridge for £869 that dropped in price by £20 less than a week later. It stayed at the lower price every day until 23 February this year.
A Leisure KIR81VSF0G freestanding electric range cooker cost £969 at AO on Black Friday last year with a £30 saving. However, it remained at this price until 23 December when it dropped further. Which? found that it did not return to above the pre-Black Friday price until February.
Very offered a Toshiba 43UL2163DBC TV for £279 on Black Friday last year, with a claimed £100 saving. However, Which? found it had cost £379 for just three days in the month before Black Friday. It stayed at £279 until 22 December, when it dropped further to £275.
Even when including discounts applied in the two weeks around Black Friday, Which? found that 186 (87%) of the deals had a lower or equal price at another time.
Which retailer is the worst for discounts?
The watchdog named Amazon and Very as the “worst retailers overall for dubious discounts”.
More than 70% of the retailer’s products included in Which?’s analysis were cheaper at other times of the year compared to their Black Friday price.
An Amazon spokesman 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.”
A John Lewis spokeswoman added: “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% higher than last year – so all our customers can benefit from great quality and value, whether they shop in store or online.”
‘Take the time to do some research’
Which? retail editor Reena Sewraz said the research shows that “finding a good deal on Black Friday is like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
She added: “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.”