'Vast Majority' of Black Friday Deals Aren't Actually Cheaper, Says Which?

By Holly Brockwell on at

We've been feverishly publishing the latest Black Friday deals with the best of 'em, because we know you love a bargain as much as we do.

But are the Black Friday deals actually bargains? Party poopers Which? have investigated and come back with a resounding 'nope.'

Which? researchers tracked the prices of 94 popular products six months before and six months after Black Friday 2017, and compared the year-round prices to the Black Friday deals on those products.

They found that 87% of those products were cheaper at other times of the year. Those products included cameras, fitness trackers and TVs – all the good tech stuff, in other words – at retailers including Amazon, Argos, Currys PC World and John Lewis.

Weirdly, though, they didn't look at an equal selection of deals across those retailers: it was 59 deals at Currys PC World, 18 at Amazon, 14 at John Lewis and just three from Argos.

Here are the rest of the findings:

  • 74% were either the same price or cheaper in the six months after Black Friday of which
  • 46% of were cheaper than the Black Friday price
  • 76% of products were the same price or cheaper at other points in the year

Just to rub it in, Which? gives some specific examples of non-deals (Theresa May take note):

  • The LG 60UJ630V, a 60” 4K TV, was advertised at £799 by Amazon on Black Friday but this wasn’t its cheapest price. In fact, it was £50 cheaper on at least 62 occasions after Black Friday and even dropped a further £150 for at least four days at the end of December and beginning of January.
  • The Sony Cybershot HX60B Superzoom compact camera was advertised as £189 (save £10) on Black Friday by Currys PC World, but we found it £10 cheaper at least 27 times in June and July 2017. It was also cheaper by £10 or more at least 43 times in the six months following Black Friday (including 33 days in December and January).
  • The 49” LG 49SJ810V TV was £599 on Black Friday from Currys PC World, but it was £20 cheaper from the end of December to mid-January, and again in April.

Which?'s Managing Director of Home Products and Services, Alex Neill, acknowledges he's pissing on everyone's chips:

"The results of our investigation will disappoint many who are expecting nothing but bargains this Black Friday.

While retailers are bombarding us with promises of great discounts and time-limited sales, it’s clear that not all deals are as good as they might appear. To bag a bargain, do your research and don’t get carried away by the hype when shopping in the upcoming sales."

It's an interesting study, but as ever, there are some things to consider before accepting the findings wholesale.

As we mentioned, the deals studied were not remotely equal across retailers: the majority of them were at Currys PC World. Argos might rightly feel hard done-to after having just three of its deals included in the study and yet being implicated in the results.

Ditto John Lewis (14) and Amazon (18) – particularly the latter, because Amazon goes absolutely all-out for Black Friday and 18 deals is pretty much the number they've got through by the time the page loads. There are so many that we've been having to split them up by day, and it's fair to assume some of those deals will be better than others, and that the best ones weren't necessarily included in this tiny sample.

Additionally, Black Friday is ideally positioned for Christmas shopping, and we're not sure it's necessarily fair to compare November deals to the six months following, which includes the first few months of the new year. Is anyone surprised to hear that something might be available cheaper in the January sales than it is before Christmas has happened? Come on.

Nonetheless, the Which? study is good food for thought and a timely reminder not to go too click-happy with your bargain shopping this Black Friday. Or do, safe in the knowledge that it's all a big made-up holiday and prices fluctuate all the damn time anyway.