WITH all but essential shops still shuttered for lockdown in England and other parts of the UK, there will be no scenes of bargain-hunters fighting in the aisles over discounted flat‑screen televisions today.
Instead, the battle for Black Friday deals this year is a cyber one — with consumers heading online as they look to save money.
Experts predict record sales — £750 million today alone — and record price cuts, with shops trying to avoid being stuck with a mountain of unsold stock as the year’s second shutdown has robbed them of four weeks’ peak pre-Christmas trading.
‘This Black Friday has the potential to be the biggest yet, sitting one week closer to Christmas and coming just after pay day for a lot of people,’ says Kyle Monk, head of insight and analytics at the British Retail Consortium. ‘Nonetheless, it poses a dilemma for retailers this year, who must weigh up whether significantly reduced margins are worth the additional volume when deciding on the discounts they will offer, particularly given that stores are closed this year and that online performance this golden quarter might be make or break for some.’
And that is not the only way that lockdown is likely to influence the bargains for which we are looking.
Gadgets are top of the UK’s wish list, followed by fashion, toys and home products.
The first lockdown saw sales of bread-makers and freezers boom as panic buying set in, followed by working-from-home kit such as printers and webcams.
But now it’s all about home entertainment and shopping for Christmas presents.
Indeed, online electricals retailer AO World says it is expecting to more than double the amount of televisions it sells during this year’s Black Friday event compared with last year. Chief executive John Roberts predicts his firm will sell more than 100,000 TVs, with customers able to get more than a third off some sets.
Meanwhile, eBay is expecting traffic to its website to eclipse last year, when 18 items were sold every second. Murray Lambell, general manager of eBay UK, predicts toys and entertainment items the whole family can enjoy will be particularly popular.
Inevitably, the move from physical shops to online purchases also increases the risk that shoppers may fall foul of fraudsters.
Consumers are being advised to only buy from official websites, rather than to click on links sent in scam emails designed by fraudsters to look like they come from big-name companies. Consumers are also being told to shop around for the best deals.
According to a survey by Lloyds, nearly two-thirds of consumers who intend to shop in the sales this year have actively delayed a purchase to see what discounts become available. But Which? advises that if customers don’t like the deal on offer, they would do well to wait a little longer. Research by the consumer rights’ champion found that some ‘deals’ are not all they seem, with prices actually dropping further in the weeks after Black Friday. Ahead of the sales, some firms also inflate prices to make the Black Friday discount look greater still.
Websites such as Pricerunner, PriceSpy and CamelCamelCamel (Amazon only) can be used to check a product’s price history, revealing if what has caught your eye is a genuine bargain.
Yesterday, we bought you the fashion and beauty Black Friday steals in Femail Magazine. Today, feast your eyes on these welcome discounts on toys and tech.