Black Friday, the biggest sales event in the tech calendar, is nearly here – and the deals have started already.
What began as a single day of discounts has become an entire month of deals on everything electronic: tablets, TVs, gaming kit, washing machines, coffee makers and much more. If you’re looking to get some Christmas presents for less or just fancy bagging a deal for yourself, Black Friday’s an excellent time to do it. Here’s how to get the very best bargains.
1. Know what you need
We’ve learnt this one the hard way: it’s very easy to get caught up in sales excitement and end up buying things that you won’t even take out of the cellophane. So step one is to decide in advance what it is you’re looking for, whether that’s an OLED TV or an Xbox controller, and stick to it.
2. Focus on features
The very best deals aren’t necessarily on the specific model you might have in mind – so you might be interested in the UK3210A but the available Black Friday deal is for the UK3210B. Rather than focus on specific model numbers, focus instead on the features – so for example if you’re looking for one of the best TV deals, focus on the type of panel (OLED? Mini-LED?), whether you need lots of HDMI 2.1 ports for gaming and so on. Like Mick Jagger once sang, you can’t always get what you want but sometimes you’ll find just what you need.
3. Do your homework
The best deals are often on stock that is or is about to be superseded, so for example you shouldn’t expect huge discounts on the latest Apple iPad or on a newly released OLED TV. The really big deals are usually on slightly older products, so for example you can expect very big savings on 2021 and 2022 OLED TVs, laptops and other very slightly aged products.
4. Get ready early
If you’re going to be looking on Amazon for Black Friday deals, it’s wise to sign up for a Prime subscription: some of Amazon’s best deals tend to be reserved for Prime members. Provided you haven’t already done it in the last 12 months, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial so it won’t cost you any money.
If you’re going to be paying with your credit card (a good idea, because you get extra consumer protection when you do) then this is a good time to clear the balance in anticipation of your Black Friday deals.
5. Choose your weapons
There are three key tools you should have ready for Black Friday: PayPal Honey (an app for your web browser), CamelCameCamel.com and Pricespy.co.uk or Pricerunner.com. These tools enable you to see whether the deal you’re looking at is any good.
PayPal Honey can show you the recent price history, so you can see if the price was hiked in advance of Black Friday before coming down again. It can also automatically check for voucher codes to see if you can save even more. We’ve found that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t give us any information, but when it does provide information or vouchers it’s handy.
CamelCamelCamel enables you to check the Amazon price history: type in the product name or paste the Amazon page link. You’ll then see the price for that item going back as far as two years if it’s been around that long.
Last but not least, Pricespy and Pricerunner are price comparison sites. Enter the product name and they’ll show you the price across hundreds of different retailers, once again enabling you to see if the deal is a good one.
6. Don’t believe the RRP
Most Black Friday deals will tell you how much you’re saving against the recommended retail price (RRP), but chances are that nobody’s been paying that price for months or even years. For example, right now we’re looking at a very impressive deal on an LG OLED TV, down from $3600/£2899 to $1986/£1599 – a saving of 45%. Amazing, right? But when we check the price history using the tools mentioned above, we can see that the price has been steadily dropping all year. It’s been under $2360/£1900 since September, so while you’re still getting a decent deal it’s not quite so spectacular: you’re saving about $400/£300, rather than over $1000.
This is particularly true of older products. The RRP you’ll see is the recommended retail price from the day the product launched, not what it’s actually been selling for. So while you may discover some bargain prices, if it’s not the first time a price has gone that low, then it won’t be the last.
7. Don’t panic!
Black Friday deals are nice to have, but they’re very rarely unmissable, unrepeatable one-off bargains. If you can’t get what you want, don’t worry: there’s always the Boxing Day sales, the Spring sales, Amazon Prime Day…