How not to go into the red on Black Friday
Ahead of tomorrow's mega deals, Vicky Shaw has tips on surviving this shopping frenzy without putting too many dents in your wallet
Christmas is coming - but it seems many shoppers have pressed pause on their spending while they wait for big discount events such as Black Friday.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG recently found the 'golden quarter' - the all-important final three months of the year for retailers when customers splash out for Christmas - has got off to a fairly flat start so far. The report said consumers' anticipation that there may be better deals to be had on Black Friday may be a factor, with people waiting until the late November sales to splash out.
More than seven in 10 (71%) of us have already made up our minds to do some shopping on Black Friday, a separate report from TopCashback.co.uk has found - showing the day is now firmly part of the retail calendar.
It's easy to get carried away in the frenzy as retailers slash their prices. So if you're worried about your wallet, here are some handy Black Friday survival tips from James Walker, founder of consumer help website Resolver:
Be a cynic
If you see something that looks like a bargain, go to the manufacturer's website and look at the recommended retail price (RRP). Bear in mind that items often sell for less than this all year round. Some websites also have price comparisons, if you search for particular items.
Have a masterplan
It's tempting to just browse the Black Friday sales, but that's a sure-fire way to end up buying stuff you might not actually need. Think about items you might actually want to buy - either as gifts, replacing items that are nearing the end of their useful lives or a one-off luxury purchase that you've really wanted. Don't be tempted to deviate.
Only buy what you've planned and budgeted for
It doesn't matter if you're convinced you can beat the techniques retailers use to get you to cough up your hard-earned cash. There's a huge amount of research and planning employed by retailers to get to your impulse buy. Ticking clock timers, glossy images, discounted prices, item offers 'expiring' - they've thought of it all.
Don't be careless with credit cards and interest-free deals
Don't think of these credit sources as 'free money'. Think of them as bills outstanding. So if you spend £1,000, you'll need to allow for paying that off each month. Imagine what that will cost over a year and see if it fits your budget.
Check your right to return goods
Contrary to what you may be told, you do have rights to return sale items if they turn out to be faulty. If you're receiving goods in the post which you may be putting to one side as Christmas presents, always open the delivery box when you receive it and check the items.
If you're buying big items check delivery charges
Some firms now offer assembly services for big items too. Be aware that you might get a local handyman to do the job much cheaper.
If you're buying for Christmas, add any expensive items to your home insurance
Burglars often use the Christmas period as an opportunity to strike as they know households are stocking up on goodies.
And while you're looking after your own wallet, be ethical when chucking out items you're replacing with your new purchases. You'd be amazed what you can recycle these days. Sofas, household appliances and other items will be collected by some charities if they're in an okay condition. If you're replacing something that isn't broken, have a quick check online to see if it's recyclable. Don't just bin it - as it could make someone else's Christmas.
Don't allow yourself to be fobbed off by firms if something doesn't turn out to be as expected - or doesn't turn up at all
Consumer rights expert Martyn James says: "When you enter in to an agreement with a retailer, your contract is with them," adding that retailers should sort out delivery-related problems.
He suggests asking for proof of delivery if you're being charged for goods that were never received.