Sarah Coles: Have a plan for Black Friday – and then stick ruthlessly to it

Sarah Coles: Have a plan for Black Friday – and then stick ruthlessly to it

This week, anyone who disapproves of Halloween or school proms as hideously over-commercialised American imports may finally discover whether it’s possible to get repetitive strain injury from eye-rolling.

Black Friday will probably take place largely online this year – it’s hardly like we have any choice in the matter. Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS
Black Friday will probably take place largely online this year – it’s hardly like we have any choice in the matter. Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS

There will be no escape from the most over-commercialised American import of them all: Black Friday.

Technically, everyone looks down on Black Friday. It has been dismissed as a flash in the pan ever since Amazon brought the shopping extravaganza to the UK ten years ago.

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Last year there was a growing consensus that Black Friday fatigue was widespread: we were tired of the hype and disappointed with the offers, so we wouldn’t be bothering.

Yet, as usual, we still found ourselves waking up in the small hours, trawling the net for smart speakers and coffee makers – and spending an estimated £5.6bn.

This year is going to be a bit different. The jury is out on exactly how it’s going to differ.

Some experts suggest life is too difficult at the moment for a shopping event, while others predict we’ll spend any money we saved by working from home, on a bumper bag of Christmas presents. I tend to favour the ‘record sales’ argument.

We know from our own research that people are planning to spend less on presents this year, but given that 12 per cent of people plan to save money by hunting for discounts, it’s only going to make Black Friday more popular.

The other major change is that it’s going to take place largely online – it’s hardly like we have any choice in the matter. IMRG (the online retail association) expects online shopping this week to be up 35 per cent-45 per cent from last year.

It’s one reason why we’ve seen the expansion of the day to a fortnight or longer, so the stores have more opportunity to tempt us to part with our money, and so that businesses can still socially distance in warehouses and manage deliveries without being overwhelmed by demand.

You might think it’s no skin off your nose how the day pans out, but it’s worth working on the assumption that everything will be online, and that demand will be through the roof.

If you’re right you’ll beat the rush and emerge with a bargain, and if you’re wrong you’ll just be a bit unnecessarily organised.

Bagging a bargain starts well before you go anywhere near an online retailer. You need to start with your budget, and what you can honestly afford to spend right now.

There’s no point snapping up deals if you end up spending a small fortune in interest on a credit card or overdraft in the process.

Then you need to make a list of things you need. For each thing on your list, use a price tracker to find out what the item has sold for previously, and what the best price is at the moment.

You can also set up price alerts, so you’ll get an email if the items you want hit a specific target price.

Next, get some of the admin out of the way. Once you know the retailers selling the items you want, it’s worth signing up online, so you don’t need to do that in the heat of the moment. Bookmark the page too, so you can get to it in a hurry.

When it comes to shopping, it’s worth starting as early as you can face it.

There are plenty of deals running all week, so take some time to check your bookmarks to see whether an item has fallen in price.

One of my favourite places for Black Friday shopping is John Lewis, because the price promise means that if you find it cheaper (with any retailer with a high street presence) within 28 days, you can reclaim the difference.

This includes subsequent price cuts at John Lewis itself – so you have nothing to lose.

On Black Friday, there’s a reasonable chance that peak times like 7-8am and 5-6pm are a bit more hectic, so it’s worth picking a quieter time.

If you’re really committed, you can log on at midnight. Otherwise, you could set your alarm clock an hour early and get your shopping in before breakfast.

This level of planning sounds over the top, but when you have a major purchase planned, it can pay dividends. Last year I was nerdily organised, and at 5am, my husband and I woke early, trawled all our bookmarks, and snagged a big discount on the tech my kids wanted for Christmas.

I then went back to sleep, safe in the knowledge that Black Friday had delivered yet again.

Unfortunately, my husband stayed up, clicked on some marketing emails, and ended up spending a small fortune on a hot chocolate maker that he’s used twice since.

It goes to show that the most important part of any Black Friday plan is the bit where you stick ruthlessly to it.

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I'm business helper , i have 20 year experience in business management sector. I help many business owners to grow business. My passion is helping fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners succeed.

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