Businesses misleading consumers with Black Friday discounts

Half of products ‘on offer’ were actually cheaper in the months before or after Black Friday, research finds.

An investigation by Which? has found that 49 per cent of last year’s Black Friday discounts weren’t all they were cracked up to be.

Which? tracked deals on 20 popular tech gadgets and home appliances on Amazon, AO, Argos, Currys and John Lewis for the three months before and two months after Black Friday last year. The results show that only half (51 per cent) of the products were cheapest on Black Friday itself, with the remainder cheaper before or after the day.

Less than one in ten (8 per cent) discounts were one-day only offers, where the Black Friday price was cheaper than on any other day. Around one in ten (12 per cent) were cheaper at some point in the three months leading up to Black Friday and four in 10 (38 per cent) were cheaper in the weeks after Black Friday.

In addition, Which? uncovers numerous examples of offers by retailers AO and Currys that appeared to inflate the ‘was’ price to make deals look better than they actually are. When promoting a discount like ‘was £100, now £50’, the ‘was’ price should be the most recent price the item was sold at for 28 consecutive days or more, and not a price that is more than six months old. Which? found examples where this had not been done. As a result, Which? believes that these retailers may be breaking government guidelines.

Pete Moorey, head of campaigns, Which? says, ‘Shoppers might be surprised to learn that only half of Black Friday discounts are actually cheapest on Black Friday. If you’re thinking about starting your Christmas shopping around Black Friday, do your research as some ‘deals’ may not be all they’re cracked up to be.’

Advice from Which? on smart shopping this Black Friday

‘Was’ prices can be misleading – the ‘was’ price should be the most recent price the item was sold at for 28 consecutive days or more, and not a price that is more than six months old.

Do your own research – look at the price on previous days to make sure you really are getting a good deal.

If you are not convinced by an offer or discount, hold off for a better one – we found 38 per cent of products were cheaper after Black Friday.

Shop at retailers with price promises, ensuring you can get a refund if your item drops in value in the weeks following your purchase.

Further reading on retail sales

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Black Friday

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