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When is Black Friday 2017 and how can I find the best deals?

Telegraph Reporters
Black Friday 2017 - when is it?

When is Black Friday 2017?

If you love a bargain or you're saving up for something big, you might want to keep track of Black Friday - the biggest shopping day of the year.

The online sales bonanza falls on November 24 this year - it's always the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. However these days with stiff competition among retailers and pressure to deliver, many shops launch deals well ahead of the big day so keep your eyes peeled for early offers.

Black Friday is always followed by Cyber Monday (November 27) which used to be a separate event in it's own right until last year when it merely became an extension to the Black Friday weekend.

Where did Black Friday come from?

Used to describe a pre-Christmas day of commercial carnage, the term “Black Friday” originates from Philadelphia, USA, in the early 1950s. Online retail giant Amazon introduced the concept to the UK in 2010. Asda, owned by America’s biggest retailer Walmart, followed suit in 2013.

How big was Black Friday 2016?

Britons spent a record £5.8 billion over the four days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2016 - an increase of 15 per cent on last year, according to VoucherCodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research (CRR). Online retailers took approximately £2.8 billion of this - up 20 per cent from £2.3 billion in 2015, according to the data.

Black Friday countdown

On Black Friday itself, experts estimate that £1.27 billion was spent in the 24 hour period - up 16 per cent on last year.

However, did you know that Black Friday is still completely trumped by China's Singles Day, the world's biggest online shopping day of the year? That finished on November 11 2016 with Chinese shoppers spending $17.8bn (£14.2bn) in 24 hours. It seems UK shoppers still have a way to go to beat that record.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud’s Jamie Merrick says that UK retailers didn’t discount as heavily as those in other countries. Consumers in the UK, he says, saw prices cut by an average of just 9%. That compared to Germany (23%), France (26%), the United States (29%) and Canada (36%).

People fighting over TVs in Asda, Wembley, London on Black Friday 2013. Since then, the event has moved largely online.

Did all retailers take part?

No. In 2016, Ikea, Asda, Next and Homebase were among those who turned their back on the sales day. M&S and Selfridges sort of took part in Black Friday 2016 - both stores had weekend long Christmas-themed sales instead. 

Asda's spokesman said: "Following feedback from customers that they wanted low prices throughout the festive season and not just for one day, Asda took the decision to step away from Black Friday."

Asda was hailed for bringing the US phenomenon of Black Friday to the UK in 2013, but the supermarket hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons when scenes of shoppers wrestling over discounted televisions made front page news. 

Which shops triumphed in 2016?

John Lewis trumped brands such as Apple and Amazon to take the top spot as the nation’s most popular brand this Black Friday, according to data from voucher website Vouchercloud. 

When it came to tech specific purchases, the department store took the top spot once more, followed again by Apple, Amazon and Game. However, Debenhams appeared to win the fashion war. 

Apple took part in Black Friday 2016

What did we learn from Black Friday 2016?

Online is king 

Online spending on Black Friday 2016 topped £1.2 billion - up 16 per cent on the previous year, according to the CRR, cementing the place of the digital world as the new high street. 

Payment service Worldpay said it processed 20 per cent more online transactions compared with last year, with global sales peaking at 16.01pm with a rate of 181 transactions per second. Meanwhile, Visa said online spend in the week leading up to Black Friday was up 13 per cent year-on-year with almost £1 billion spent on Black Friday alone. 

Mobile is ringing the changes

Mobile proved to be the the most popular channel for purchasing goods in the UK, according to data from ChannelAdvisor. Sixty four per cent of purchases took place on mobile devices, compared to just 48 per cent in 2015.

Retailers across the board reported a jump in transactions made via mobile, proving the smartphone is now the gateway to the "digital high street". Improved store apps and the ability to pay for items at the touch of a button without repeatedly loading in card details makes shopping-on-the-go too good to resist. 

John Lewis saw a 21 per cent spike in sales through mobile phones between 8am and 9am as people shopped online on their way to work. Dixons Carphone said the retailer had its highest ever mobile traffic share in 2016 since Black Friday began, while Argos said 80 per cent of its customers shopped for deals via mobile.

It wasn't just a one day event

Many retailers tried to lure shoppers in with deals for several days before Black Friday in an extension of the traditional one-day event, which some clever PR people dubbed Black "FiveDay". 

Amazon began its daily changing deals almost two weeks before the big day, while Currys PC World, Debenhams, Boots, House of Fraser and eBay also jumped on the bandwagon early.

Analysts say the short-lived spree has evolved into a more extended period as consumers learn to track prices and compare deals between retailers in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Night-owl shoppers

More consumers shopped online in the middle of the night than ever before, keen to avoid queues and mid-aisle squabbles in shops. Compared to Black Friday 2015, Vouchercloud said it saw a 46 per cent increase in pre-6am traffic, with 208 per cent increase in traffic at 5am on Friday morning.

Between midnight and 1am was Argos' biggest trading hour, with 8,000 visits per minute and 15 orders per second. Meanwhile, Currys PC World noticed more early-bird shoppers online at 7am - an hour earlier than in 2015, while evening traffic was also up. 

Showroomers vs Webroomers

Shoppers are now using a combination of store visits and online browsing when making big purchases, according to Visa’s Digital Payments study.

It points to consumers who are either “showroomers” (those who view an item in-store before purchasing online) and "webroom" consumers, who look for the best price online, and then buy the item in that retailer's shop.

What were the popular products in 2016?

At John Lewis, one of the biggest technology sellers was the smart speaker Sonos Play 1, with one selling every 10 seconds. Its Lego Simpsons house was also a big hit, as was Marc Jacobs perfume. In Home, shoppers snapped up Sophie Conran crockery. 

This smart speaker Sonos Play 1 was John Lewis' biggest technology seller

Over at Currys PC World, TVs were a hot favourite once again, followed by laptops, Google Chromecasts, Samsung tablets and large kitchen appliances. 

Argos and Very.co.uk reported that their customers were largely interested in games consoles, and wearable tech was also a big seller. In fact, Very.co.uk sold a smart watch every three seconds between peak trading hours of 9am and 10am.

Shop smart tips for Black Friday

  1. Set a budget — It can be very easy to get carried away if you don’t set a spending limit for yourself. Even if something is heavily discounted it could still be outside your budget. Work out what you can afford to spend and stick to it.

  2. Do your research — Do your research beforehand if you have a particular purchase in mind; be prepared to shop around to get the best price. Have a figure in mind you are willing to spend, and check online for comparison prices.

Consider how you’re paying — It can be a good idea to pay for items with your credit card because it can provide you with an extra layer of protection if things go wrong – but you should aim to pay it off any balance in full when payment is due. Don’t put yourself into debt.

Know your rights — The Consumer Rights Act says goods should be of satisfactory quality, fit to do the job intended, and last a reasonable length of time. This right is limited to 30 days from the date you buy your product.

Look long-term — In the run up to Christmas, many supermarkets put together deals where you are offered vouchers or bonuses for the festive season every time you shop, which you can then put towards Christmas shopping later down the line. You might well be offered loyalty bonuses on top of regular points too if you start saving early enough.