IRISH punters are set to splash the cash this Black Friday – as bargain-savvy customers seek out the best buys.
Thousands of online retailers are set to slash their prices for the annual sales event, which takes place on November 24 this year.
Amazon Prime Black Friday sales already kicked off a full seven days before Black Friday sales usually begin.
The online retailer launched a week of sales instead of a single day and thousands of items have been cut in price in time for the big sale.
But with many people now buying online, consumer experts are urging people to think twice before they splurge in the sales.
The European Consumer Centre Ireland has published it’s annual spending guide in a bid to help shoppers ensure they are splashing the cash safely.
Here are the experts’ tips for avoiding being duped by a bad buy.
WHICH SALE IS BEST
Black Friday/Cyber Monday is a massive sales event but not much different in nature than all the other sales throughout the year, except in terms of volumes.
In late November and early December, most shoppers will be buying their Christmas gifts, so some shopping needs to be done.
But if you want something specific, it’s worth taking the time to be organised about it and making sure you are getting the product you want, at the right price, which may be lower in the January sales, for example.
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DON’T LOSE THE HEAD
The first and most important thing is not to get swayed by the sales spiel.
We’re buying volumes at Christmas, but should not let ourselves be lured by the promise of huge discounts for what are ultimately poor-value or poor-quality products.
Especially at this time, when every cent matters and sustainability is a concern, buying superior-quality and long-durability products means that you are ultimately getting more out of your purchase long-term.
NEED OR WANT?
Raising consumers’ expectations about ever-better, ever-greater discounts and creating a sense of urgency about getting their hands on very limited and heavily discounted stock increases pressure on purchasing decision-making.
It is simply how marketing works: creating a sense of irrational need.
Let’s keep some perspective on what we really need and what we simply want because someone told us we need it.
When consumption becomes compulsion, it’s time to step back and reconsider your choices.
Keep in mind that events like Black Friday/Cyber Monday are a way for retailers to shift surplus stock and generate increased sales volumes ahead of Christmas.
More often than not, it is an opportunity for shops to clear some warehouse space for new season stock, so the selection of reduced-price items is not what you may expect or, indeed, worth buying even with the reduction in price.
Don’t assume any Black Friday, pre-Christmas deals are the best deals of the year; products go on sale all the time these days, so don’t let the feeling of urgency overwhelm your common sense.
As people shop online more than ever before, the price deals generated by increased sales volumes are getting better and more frequent.
Go online at any time of the year, and you will see quite a large seasonal sale or clearance selection to choose from.
PUT IN THE WORK
At this time of the year, we are told that these are the best discounts of the year, and some offers do appear unbeatable.
Keep in mind however that many shops refer to the recommended retail price for the discounts they offer.
But, even before applying the Black Friday deals, often, the RRP does not correspond to the actual market price; it is higher, which means that the discount will appear more attractive.
They’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse. Sometimes sellers make you an offer that you simply can’t look away from.
Make sure you’re getting a real deal, though – sometimes retailers simply inflate the prices before reducing them down again in order to give customers the impression of getting “a huge discount”.
BE IN THE KNOW
You will notice a shift from sales on products to sales on services, such as subscriptions, packages, experiences and vouchers.
We are now in an age when many products come with a services package attached, and/or many products are now sold as a service.
For instance, instead of buying a digital product, you can sign up to a digital subscription for a recurrent fee.
This is called Product as a Service and is a genuinely sound business model, but it can be used deceptively, too, when consumers end up tied into a long-term subscription with detrimental cancellation terms.
Another sector that heavily promotes “deals” is gaming, which happens on platforms and apps also accessed by children.
Gamers of all ages should carefully consider new product deals, discounted packages and subscription offers featured in sales, particularly for free-to-play games that can only be enhanced by subsequent purchases.
Parents should be particularly careful when monitoring their children’s in-app purchases and access to paid-for loot boxes.
Finally, this year more than ever, be mindful when shopping on social media, particularly when live shopping. i.e. buying directly from and during a live stream on various channels.
IF THINGS GO WRONG
For any shopping and online shopping cross-border consumer-trader disputes, consumers resident in Ireland who have a complaint about a trader based in another European Union country, Norway, Iceland or the United Kingdom, and who have tried to resolve the matter directly with the trader to no avail, should contact the European Consumer Centre Ireland.
All the information on cross-border online shopping consumer rights in the EU, as well as ways to obtain redress when something goes wrong, can be found on eccireland.ie.