Black Friday: On your marks... countdown is on to bargains bonanza
Bargain hunters are counting down the days to this year's Black Friday, where super sales on sought-after products are sure to help with the cost of the Christmas shop.
Many high street retailers have been struggling in recent times - more so in Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK - and shoppers will be hoping to bag some brilliant offers and massive discounts.
Black Friday falls on November 29 and will be followed three days later by Cyber Monday, which is now generally acknowledged as the busiest day of the year for online shopping.
Laptops, games consoles, furniture, toys and clothes are all expected to be up for grabs at a fraction of their usual price, which is great news if you fancy purchasing some of your festive gifts in good time.
Black Friday is a tradition that originates from America, where retailers cut prices on a huge range of items the day after Thanksgiving, but the UK has now fully embraced the annual phenomenon.
That's why you can expect major UK retailers to cut prices on a large selection of items - including big-budget electrical goods, tech, beauty gift sets, smart devices and kitchen equipment.
Although Black Friday officially falls on November 29, many retailers such as Amazon actually slash their prices from the middle of November in an attempt to stay ahead of competitors - so keep an eye out for deals throughout the month.
Last Sunday the company said this year would be its biggest Black Friday Sale yet, with the annual event beginning a week before everyone else's and running from November 22 to November 29.
And in recent years Argos, Currys, Very, AO, eBay and other familiar names have worked especially hard to beat Amazon's best prices, becoming Black Friday favourites in their own right.
Cross-category retailers generally have the best deals on the nation's most-wanted products, though there are exceptions.
It's still too early to tell what exact deals will be on offer this year, but discounts on some of 2019's most popular products can be predicted. For example, wireless headphones have been a huge trend this year - with Apple Airpods ahead of the competition.
However, when the sales start, consumers should also keep their eyes peeled for deals on other wireless headphones - including the Creative SXFI AIR and the Beats Solo 3 headphones.
Tablets continue to be popular, so there are likely to be offers on some of the high-end versions, such as the iPad Air and the Microsoft Surface Go.
Smartphones will certainly continue to be in high demand so experts advise bargain hunters to look out for deals on the Google Pixel 3A and OnePlus 7 Pro, two of the best on the market.
In 2018, Argos discounted Dyson vacuum cleaners, Bose headphones, Nescafe Dolce Gusto coffee machines and 4K TVs from the likes of LG and Philips. It also knocked money off brands including Lego, Apple and Samsung.
The catalogue retailer hasn't indicated what its plans for Black Friday 2019 are, but we can be fairly certain there will be offers on Xbox and PlayStation consoles as both Microsoft and Sony will be bringing out their new consoles in late 2020. Argos also traditionally has sales on toys, so if you're after some cut-price Lego sets, Nerf guns or Fortnite toys then the catalogue store could be the place to shop.
Also expect to see discounts on Tu clothing at Sainsbury's (perhaps up to 25% off to match last year's promotion) and price drops on Google smart home devices such as the Google Home Mini and Chromecast.
Meanwhile, a recent Black Friday sale blunder left electrical retailer Currys advertising £289 iPads for just £4, although it hasn't been confirmed if the company will honour the price.
People managed to order a 9.7 inch 2018 Apple iPad (32GB) for £285 cheaper than normal by adding the code 'FREECASE' at checkout but some are now reporting that their orders have been cancelled.
Despite what many consumers believe, if you take an item to the till and are told the price is a mistake, you don't have the right to purchase it at the lower price.
You can ask the store to honour the price, but they are under no obligation to do so.
Black Friday was introduced to the UK by supermarket chain Asda in 2013 and always falls on the fourth Friday in November.
Rather than queuing up outside shops in the early hours, Black Friday shoppers often prefer to use their phones or laptops to browse online and order.