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Black Friday – all it's cracked up to be?

Written by Ipswich Building Society

25 Nov 2019


Black Friday, Personal finance

4 min read

Love it or hate it, Black Friday is now well and truly here to stay in the UK and has already surpassed the traditional ‘Super Saturday’ – the last weekend before Christmas – as the UK’s busiest shopping day of the year.

Where did Black Friday come from?

Black Friday first emerged in the US, falling on the day after Thanksgiving (which is also a US national holiday) – giving people a four-day weekend and thus more time to shop. Like Halloween before it, Black Friday managed to make its way across the pond, first taking the UK by storm in 2014 – you might still remember scenes of chaos across supermarkets as shoppers battled each other over bargain TVs. A year later, some major supermarkets eschewed Black Friday in fear of a repeat of the chaos, but by then it was too late – Black Friday had taken off across the country at large, with 2015 seeing £1.1bn spent in 24 hours. In 2016 this figure had increased to £1.2bn and in 2017 surpassed expectations by reaching a whopping £1.4bn.

Both in the US and the UK this is now seen as the start of the Christmas shopping season and is marked by a barrage of deals and special offers, often presenting shoppers with huge and generous discounts. There’s no doubt that Black Friday can be a great time for shoppers to make that long-awaited large purchase or grab some presents for the family.

But are these deals all they seem?

In 2017 there were claims from consumer group Which? suggesting more than half of products on sale were the same price or cheaper at other times during the year. With many stores running various promotions throughout the year, it’s not always guaranteed that Black Friday will be the cheapest day to purchase. Research ahead of this year’s Black Friday event has shown that electrical goods tend to be the best items to buy as they tend to have the most substantial discounts – although again this depends on the type of product and it’s always best to check beforehand.

However you spend the Black Friday weekend – whether online or out and about – remember to keep your wits about you and do your research before you buy. And for those of you who are getting tired of being bombarded by deals and offers and spending money on things you don’t really need – relax! It’ll soon be Christmas.

Top tips for Black Friday Shopping

Don’t spend beyond your means

Yes, that 50-inch TV might look amazing, but do you really need it? Try not to tap into your savings or spend beyond what you can afford to repay, or you might wind up in debt. And if you do find yourself left with a festive financial hangover, there are plenty of things you can do to get yourself out of the red and into the black.

Plan ahead

If you’re in the market for a particular item, get an idea of where you can buy it and what shops are running promotions. Consider registering for websites before the day for quick checkout and to receive special offers by email.

Do your research

Some offers may not be all they seem – read up on prices and see if it really is a deal worth having. You should always look across lots of different sites too, or pay a visit in-store.

Not just on the day

Black Friday has grown into a weekend or even week-long event for many retailers – why not start early? And don’t forget ‘Cyber Monday’ – the online-only follow up to Black Friday often featuring deals on technology and other high value items.


This article was published under our previous name of Ipswich Building Society. We changed our name in 2021 – find out more.

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