Why Black Friday consumers may not be bagging the best deals
Shoppers are being warned that almost half of the so-called Black Friday deals are cheaper at other times - meaning that some retailers could be breaking government guidelines.
An investigation by Which? has found that 49% of products 'on offer' actually cost less in the months beforehand or afterwards.
It tracked deals on 20 popular tech gadgets and home appliances on Amazon, AO, Argos, Currys and John Lewis for the three months before and two months after Black Friday last year.
In one case the consumer watchdog found that Currys dropped the price of a Samsung TV by just a pound while claiming it was a saving of £101; in another, AO claimed a tumble dryer's price tag represented a £90 saving while in reality it was a discount of just £10.
Pete Moorey, head of campaigns at Which?, said its study should give consumers food for thought ahead of this year's Black Friday, which falls on November 25.
"Shoppers might be surprised to learn that only half of Black Friday deals are actually cheapest on Black Friday," he said.
"If you're thinking about starting your Christmas shopping around Black Friday, do your research as some 'deals' may not be all they're cracked up to be."
The results unveiled by Which? show that only half (51%) of the products were cheapest on Black Friday itself, with the remainder cheaper before or after that day.
Fewer than one in 10 (8%) discounts were one-day only offers, where the Black Friday price was cheaper than on any other day.
Around one in 10 (12%) were cheaper at some point in the three months leading up to Black Friday, and four in 10 (38%) were cheaper in the weeks after Black Friday. In addition, Which? uncovered numerous examples of offers by retailers AO and Currys that appeared to inflate the 'was' price to make deals look better than they actually were.
When promoting a discount like 'was £100, now £50', the 'was' price should be the most recent price the item was sold at for 28 consecutive days or more, and not a price that is more than six months old.
Which? found examples where this had not been done. As a result, Which? believes that these retailers may be breaking government guidelines.
The watchdog advises would-be bargain hunters to do their own research ahead of the event by looking at the price on previous days to make sure they really are getting a good deal.
Consumers are also advised to shop at retailers with price promises, ensuring they can get a refund if their item drops in price in the weeks following their purchase.
Visit the Which? Black Friday hub - http://which.co.uk/bfdeals - for more top tips