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Why the buyer should beware so-called Black Friday bargains

There are great deals online all year round, says Peter Jenkinson

You'll likely be aware that a shopping phenomenon has just passed, the double-day bargain hunter's paradise that is Black Friday and Cyber Monday has been sending retailers' tills into a chorus of 'kerchings'.

Since 1940, it has existed in America in one form or another, an attempt by retailers to get shoppers out after Thanksgiving and bag some bargains. We have Amazon to thank for bringing the affair to the UK and, since 2010, we've been snapping up apparently unbelievable bargains. It has been uncovered recently that some so-called 'deals' weren't quite offering the savings we were, perhaps, expecting.

The fever pitch status the build-up to these two big shopping days produced perhaps led us to a touch of over-shopping, too, as well over £1bn was spent in the UK last year and most predictions are for an increase. It is a great fillip for the economy, but, what might we be in for next year?

Far from being just a couple of days in the UK, there were retailers 'going early' with their Black Friday deals - over a week early, in some cases - and most of the bigger ones had their event in full swing before the big day actually arrived.

It does put one in mind of those perpetual sales we see at out-of-town furniture shops. Will Black Friday evolve here into the entire month of November, perhaps? There isn't anything to stop it really. The event has evolved dramatically in the UK in a very short period of time and we don't have Thanksgiving as a trigger to give it some kind of calendar definition.

It has already crept out of its single-day cave with the added Cyber Monday when, after an apparent weekend of 'shopping till we've dropped', retailers migrate their offers online, so we can all sit down and go at it again.

This day has to be the preferred one for buying all those bulky items to keep the growing legions of men in mainly white vans in action, surely? Can we expect a 'Terrific savings Tuesday', or 'Price-wobble Wednesdays'? I don't think anything would surprise us.

Everyone wants to bag a bargain, it enhances the feeling that retail therapy can bring, but there are bargains year-round for savvy shoppers and we should proceed with caution before barging down doors during one or two days of the year to snag a TV set and save a tenner.

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