Which? Study finds 98% of Black Friday ‘deals’ aren’t the cheapest price of the year
In a revealing study, consumer watchdog Which? has scrutinised the authenticity of Black Friday discounts, challenging the conventional wisdom around this much-anticipated annual sales event.
Their research analysed more than 66,000 prices in the six months before and after last Black Friday to see how their sale day prices compared.
Which? tracked 208 products from seven leading tech and home retailers in the UK – Amazon, AO, Argos, Boots, John Lewis, Richer Sounds, and Very.
The startling revelation was that a mere 2% of these products were actually cheaper during the Black Friday sales compared to other times of the year.
Interestingly, 45% of the products were found to be cheaper at other times, while 98% were either the same price or less expensive outside the Black Friday period.
This finding is particularly notable considering the extended sales periods that now often start earlier in November and continue past Black Friday.
However, it’s not all discouraging news for bargain hunters.
The study acknowledges that there are indeed some genuinely good deals available, although they are relatively scarce.
Which? experts, after meticulously reviewing thousands of deals, have identified a selection of offers that they believe genuinely represent good value.
These recommendations are based on comprehensive pricing knowledge and rigorous product quality testing.
The investigation also highlighted specific instances of misleading deals from the last year’s sales.
For instance, Apple Airpods (2nd Generation) at Argos and Currys, and the Garmin Lily Sport Edition at Amazon, were among products that were cheaper at different times of the year, not just during Black Friday.
When it comes to individual retailers, Argos topped the list with 75% of its Black Friday products being cheaper at other times of the year, primarily TVs.
Argos, however, clarified that most of these products were part of other promotional offers. Amazon followed, with 69% of products cheaper outside of Black Friday.
Amazon attributed its pricing to dynamic algorithms considering factors like stock availability and demand.
Retailers like Very, AO, and Richer Sounds also had a significant portion of their products cheaper outside the Black Friday sales, with 54%, 50%, and 47% respectively.
These retailers emphasized their commitment to offering value throughout the year, with Richer Sounds specifically noting its price transparency policies.
John Lewis and Currys, too, had their share of products cheaper at other times of the year, with John Lewis citing its ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ policy as a contributing factor. Currys did not respond to the findings.
Argos told Which? that only one product in the analysis was a Black Friday deal, while the others were part of other promotional offers.
However, Which? said it found many of the Argos products included in the analysis had ‘Black Friday’ included in the online URL and were included in a section of the retailer’s website called ‘Black Friday deals and hot products’.\
Amazon told Which? that it aims to offer great value throughout the year, through price-matching and seasonal deal events.
It said that independent analyst Profitero reviewed over 11,000 products in 2022 and found that Amazon’s year-round prices are on average 13% lower than other online retailers in the UK.
Very commented: ‘We offer great value on a range of products across all categories throughout the year, including via regular promotional events. Black Friday is one of these events and we know our customers value the deals at this time of year.’
AO stated that Which? ‘s findings didn’t represent the value that their Black Friday promotions provide.
Richer Sounds said that it had a disclaimer online from early November until the close of the Black Friday promotion to say that anything marked as ‘Fantastic Black Friday Value’ may have been at a lower price previously, but given the current market price, it still represented fantastic value. Where an item was marked ‘lowest price ever!’, it had never been sold for less.
It pointed to the Richer Sounds Price Charter, which sets out a commitment to be open with customers regarding prices and savings.
John Lewis said it focuses on great offers all year round, and that some of the prices in our research were impacted by its (now retired) ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ price-matching policy.
A Boots spokesperson said: ‘Of the small number of deals reviewed by Which? these were only lower prices during a promotional period – namely our January sale, when we often offer big discounts on clearance items. We also offer a price match promise on our range of electrical beauty products.’
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