As Christmas draws closer, retailers are gearing up for huge shopping bonanzas, with dramatic price reductions, ‘grab it quick’ offers and ticking countdown clocks all designed to make you spend, spend, spend. Our Black Friday shopping guide can help you grab a bargain and keep your finances in check as well.

Black Friday falls on November 29 this year, with online shopping event Cyber Monday following on December 2.

Looking for ways to get a Black Friday bargain? Read our 7 essential Black Friday hacks to grabbing a great deal.

Wise Living guide to Black Friday shopping

Here are some top tips for savvy sales shopping, and sticking to your intended budget as the sales frenzies get under way…

1. Look out for bargains before Black Friday

Guide to Black Friday shopping with senior couple on high street with bags
Beat the Black Friday crowds by seeing if you can hunt down bargains before and after the day itself.

Thought Black Friday only lasted one day? The best bargains may not be on the day itself. And many stores will be slashing their prices before then as they battle to encourage you to part with your money.

For example, Amazon.co.uk’s Black Friday sale is stretching over eight days – from November 22 through to November 29.

To keep up to date about stores’ sales and discount codes, you may also want to sign up for their newsletter emails. A useful Black Friday shopping guide tip is to set up a separate email account to receive these to stop them clogging up your regular inbox.

2. Check the returns policy

It can be easy to just grab everything off the shelves – and just assume you can return items later if you decide you don’t want them. But if you simply change your mind about some of your purchases, will you be able to return them, or will you have wasted your money?

Contrary to what you may be told, you do have rights to return sale items if they turn out to be faulty. One smart Black Friday shopping guide tip is to ensure that if you’re receiving goods in the post which you may be putting to one side as Christmas presents, always open the delivery box when you receive it and check the items.

Guide to Black Friday shopping and Cyber Monday
Our guide to Black Friday shopping and Cyber Monday can help you shop safely online.

Martyn James, spokesman for consumer help website Resolver.co.uk, says: “Check out the returns policy that the retailer has. You have a number of statutory rights when it comes to returning wonky goods or services. But if you just want to change something or return it you will need to refer to the guide on the retailer’s site.”

If you’re buying Christmas gifts for loved ones on Black Friday, James also suggests asking for a gift receipt at the till, so your loved one can take the item back if they need to. In addition, he suggests that if you’re buying gifts for Christmas, open the box carefully now to check everything’s correct – rather than waiting until the big day. This could make it easier to return the purchase.

3. Be a Black Friday cynic

James says the rules covering sales can be broad, so if you see something that looks like a bargain, go to the manufacturer’s website and look at the recommended retail price (RRP). Bear in mind that items often sell for less than this all year round. Some websites will give price comparisons if you do online searches for items.

4. Check any delivery charges

James says: “If you’re buying big items, make sure you’ve checked to see if there will be a delivery charge.”

He also cautions that the costs can quickly add up if you are buying items from overseas – so what initially looks like a ‘bargain’ could become much more expensive.

5. Focus on the real deals and good-value Black Friday bargains

The high street is likely to be extra busy this Black Friday weekend.
The high street is likely to be extra busy this Black Friday weekend.

When you’re being bombarded with messages about ‘great offers’, it can be hard to stay focused on what’s really a great deal. Salman Haqqi, a personal finance expert at money.co.uk, says the prices of gadgets such as TVs, tablets, laptops, kitchen accessories, games consoles and smart home devices often plunge around Black Friday.

Money.co.uk says the steepest discounts on TVs can often be on the more “mid-range” options. But the website also cautions against splashing out just because there’s a big discount. While now could be a great time to upgrade your old tech, if you’re existing gadgets are still working well, it’s probably more cost effective to stick with what you’ve got.

6. Use credit cards wisely

It can be particularly tempting in the sales to ramp up your credit card spending – but this could cause a debt hangover you’ll be paying off well into 2020.

Don’t think of these credit sources as “free money”. Think of them as bills outstanding. So if you spend £1,000, you’ll need to allow for paying that off each month. A good guide to Black Friday shopping tip is to imagine what that will cost over a year and see if it fits your budget.

Credit checking service ClearScore, which analysed the spending of its eight million users, found that among those with a credit card, the average final balance by the end of 2018 was £3,600 after festive spending. Those who don’t clear their credit card balance in full each month could quickly see interest charges mount up. ClearScore calculates that someone only paying off the minimum each month could see a further £620 added to a Christmas bill during 2020 based on average card rates – or over £1,000 if they’re on a higher rate card.

Switching to a card with an introductory rate of 0% on purchases could help you avoid interest on your Black Friday and other Christmas spending. That way you can make sure all your repayments go towards reducing the debt. But try to avoid any debt if you can.

7. Have a masterplan

It’s tempting to just browse the Black Friday sales, but that’s a sure-fire way to end up buying stuff you might not actually need. Think about items you might actually want to buy – either as gifts, replacing items that are nearing the end of their useful lives, or a one-off luxury purchase that you’ve really wanted. Don’t be tempted to deviate.

8. Only buy what you’ve planned and budgeted for

Senior couple out shopping on Black Friday
Take time to shop carefully on Black Friday and check you’re buying a bargain.

It doesn’t matter if you’re convinced you can beat the techniques retailers use to get you to cough up your hard-earned cash. There’s a huge amount of research and planning employed by retailers to get to your impulse buy. Ticking clock timers, glossy images, discounted prices, item offers “expiring” – they’ve thought of it all.

Need more Black Friday advice. Read our expert Black Friday shopping tips to make the most of the sales.

Guide to Black Friday shopping – what is Black Friday?

Black Friday has arrived – and it seems plenty of shoppers have been holding out in the hope of grabbing big discounts today. And while it’s important to ensure you keep your finances in check, how do you make sure that you’re grabbing that all-important Black Friday bargain?

Black Friday shopping 2019 could see record crowds at shopping centres.
Black Friday shopping 2019 could see record crowds at shopping centres.

The British Retail Consortium and KPMG recently found the “golden quarter” – the all-important final three months of the year for retailers when customers splash out for Christmas – got off to a fairly flat start for 2019.

Consumers’ anticipation that there may be better deals to be had on Black Friday may be a factor, the report said, with people waiting until now to splash out.

But do you really know what Black Friday is? Watch our guide to Black Friday shopping video to learn more about this sales extravaganza on the high street.

But after the build up, it’s easy to get carried away in the shopping frenzy. If you’re worried about your wallet, here are some additional handy Black Friday survival tips from James Walker, founder of consumer help website Resolver.

Guide to Black Friday shopping FAQs

1. What should I consider if buying large items on Black Friday?

Some firms now offer assembly services for big items. Be aware that you might get a local handyman to do the job much cheaper.

2. Should I add gifts to home insurance?

Yes. If you’re buying for Christmas, add any expensive items to your home insurance. Burglars often use the Christmas period as an opportunity to strike as they know households are stocking up on goodies.

3. What about recycling?

While you’re looking after your own wallet, be ethical when chucking out items you’re replacing with your new purchases.

You’d be amazed what you can recycle these days. Sofas, household appliances and other items will be collected by some charities if they’re in an OK condition. A worthy Black Friday shopping guide tip is if you’re replacing something that isn’t broken, have a quick check online to see if it’s recyclable. Don’t just bin it – as it could make someone else’s Christmas.

4. What happens if my Black Friday order doesn’t arrive?

Don’t allow yourself to be fobbed off by firms if something doesn’t turn out to be as expected – or doesn’t turn up at all. Consumer rights expert Martyn James says: “When you enter in to an agreement with a retailer, your contract is with them,” adding that retailers should sort out delivery-related problems. He suggests asking for proof of delivery if you’re being charged for goods that were never received.