It’s that time of year again, where consumers brace themselves for a torrent of deals both online and on the high street. I am of course talking about Black Friday, and so I’ve brought back my helpful buying guide to this year’s retail event, as navigating all the flash deals and (hopefully) ridiculous bargains can be overwhelming for the unprepared.
So read up, get yourself ready, and good luck getting that steal of a deal!
Black Friday: The Lowdown
Its prominence in the UK rose a few years ago thanks to main high street retailers finally getting involved (and the ludicrous stampedes that occurred) but in case you have yet to learn what Black Friday is we’ve got the lowdown for you below:
What is Black Friday? Black Friday is the first Friday after Thanksgiving (yes, blame the US), and has therefore been a time when many consumers have had the day off and used the freedom to do a spot of Christmas shopping. As a result, many stores began gearing their key sales towards this date, and it’s swelled into a global retail phenomenon.
Why Black Friday? Perhaps it’s because profits start swinging back into the black again around this time of year. Perhaps it’s because of the horrors that customer-facing staff see every year as the stampeding hordes approach their doors. Wikipedia posits that the terms originated in Philadelphia, where it was “used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving”.
So what’s Cyber Monday? The online equivalent of Black Friday, engineered back in 2005 to help online retailers get in on the fun. Its significance has fallen in the last few years, though, with more and more websites just joining in on the day (or even before.)
What are lightning deals? You’ll have seen this phrase a fair bit across a number of retailers (Amazon especially). Lightning (or Flash) deals are fast-moving bargains that typically last for a few hours or less, meaning you should snap up the deals while you have the chance.
When? Black Friday 2017 is November 24th. Cyber Monday 2016 is November 27th.
It’s worth noting that retailers start stepping up their games well in advance of Black Friday, with many retailers have been running sales initiatives since as early as last week. That said, Friday is when we’re likely to see the very hottest bargains and lightning deals.
So I’ll be able to get everything I want for cheap? While sales will be happening, the honest truth is “nobody knows.” The problem with Black Friday is that a lot of offers are often reactionary. Sure, retailers will have a list of items they plan on discounting, but big offers like bundle deals will often appear in waves when one retailer eventually pulls the trigger.
Any other last minute advice? Here’s my main pearl of wisdom for you – double check the price before buying unless you’re sure it’s a good deal. I can appreciate that flash deals will encourage you to impulse-buy but some retailers have been known to hike their prices hours before a sale making any discount actually tin in reality (or even non-existent.) Just a few minutes shopping around will mean you’ll know exactly which offers are worth jumping for.
Where to shop
I’ve rounded up all of the retailers I think are worth keeping an eye on this year, and mentioned those who are already doing deals. You can find links either to their websites or their Black Friday portals by clicking on their names.
365 Games: It’s not clear whether they will be doing any deals over Black Friday, but the folks at 365 Games do like to unexpectedly throw out sales and discount codes. One to keep an eye on.
Amazon: Always putting on a big song-and-dance for Black Friday, it’s worth approaching Amazon with a bit of caution. They’ve been known to jack up their prices before putting on a discount (tut-tut) but they do throw up great offers for those willing to keep their eyes peeled. Pay particular heed to the lightning deals, as some absolutely blinding console bundles have been known to pop up each year.
AO.com: The electronics retailer had a successful Black Friday in 2016, and are planning another round of deals this year. It’s also worth noting that AO.com offer a Price Match Promise (including deals with voucher codes) so it could be worth keeping this site in mind when you’re deal hunting.
Argos: The retailer with the “laminated book of dreams” has become something of a Black Friday star player in recent years, and they look to continue that run with 14 days of deals kicking off from November 15th. Click & Collect options are available too, meaning you can order online and get your item from your nearest store up to seven days after. You can pre-register on their website to make sure you’re ready for their deals.
Asda: After being responsible for bringing Black Friday to the UK high street in 2014, Asda have not taken part over the last few years. It’s a fair call considering the stampedes that occurred as a result of their disorganisation. That said, there might be some offers online, but I wouldn’t rely on the supermarket doing anything spectacular.
CDkeys: If their usual deals are anything to go by, their Black Friday offers could be an absolute steal. Their prices are often reactionary, though, so be sure to keep an eye on any titles that take your fancy.
Coolshop: We’d almost forgotten about Coolshop as their prices are often not that competitive these days, but their Black Friday deals are already live and definitely worth checking out!
Currys / PC World: The electronics leviathan have already thrown up some Pre-Black Friday deals, with more expected to appear ahead of the big day. It’s also worth noting that you can Click & Collect from your local store (stock depending), so you could in theory get your items the same day. Just be prepared for crowds if you do…
eBuyer: A series of daily deals have already begun over at eBuyer, all to get you in the mood for Black Friday. It’s a noteworthy site for those of you looking to upgrade your PC, get a new TV, or get hold of some accessories.
GAME: Oh, GAME. The purple retailer is somewhat notorious for their website buckling under heavy loads. It also doesn’t help that their delivery promises during busy periods is absolutely shocking (something I have experienced first-hand.) That said, success this year is absolutely crucial to the retailer so, hopefully, they will be prepared as their offers are actually pretty good.
GamersGate: Often forgotten (and annoyingly confused with a certain ridiculous movement) GamersGate are still around and doing business. Their usual offers aren’t much to shout about but they still could surprise us. A Black Friday Pre-Sale has already begun if you’re looking for price cuts on some less mainstream PC titles.
GameStop: With a €7.50 charge for delivery on orders under €150, the Irish video game chain might not be the best place for one-off deals. Thanks said, it’s worth keeping an eye on in case their decide to drop some console bundles offers during their Black Friday sale.
Green Man Gaming: GMG have been warming up for Black Friday with a series of rotating deals since last week, including giving away free games while stocks last. Their prices as of late haven’t been brilliant, but it’s worth creating an account to ensure you don’t miss out on any potential great deals. This is because they have got rid of their voucher codes, instead automatically applying discounts at the checkout for registered users.
John Lewis: Just a splash page for now, but John Lewis will continue their tradition of price matching their competitors. Although we’ll likely see the best prices from specialist shops, we’re not counting out the one-stop department stores. They’ve been known to have the occasional steal when it comes to console bundles.
Microsoft Store: Microsoft have confirmed that they will be doing some deals on their online store, specifically for the Xbox One consoles (most likely for the S line, not the shiny new X’s with their 4K deliciousness.) It’s also worth a look if you’re after a Surface tablet and / or accessories, although chances are you’ll still need to spend a fair bit to get one.
Nintendo UK: While their US counterpart will be running some select Black Friday deals, it’s not known if the UK Nintendo store will be running any offers for Black Friday. With the Switch’s success this year we may see a few bundles appear, so keep your eyes peeled.
NIS America Store: Although there hasn’t been anything confirmed, there have been rumblings that the Japanese games publisher will be doing Black Friday deals on their own store.
Origin: There’s isn’t confirmation yet on what EA’s plans are for its PC platform, but they usually discount their titles for Black Friday. If you’ve been waiting to get any DLC for your games now might be the time to do so.
Overclockers: The PC specialists usually get involved in the Black Friday madness, so you can expect some big reductions across their store. Their discounted stock is usually limited, though, so be ready to strike to get those PC hardware upgrades.
PlayStation Store: For PS4 gamers who prefer their gaming to be more digital than physical, the PlayStation Store will be unleashing another series of deals this year according to their website. It’s a great chance to top up on DLC for older titles, and possibly snag a deal on big titles from earlier on in the year.
Rice Digital: The Japanese gaming specialist will be dealing out the offers from tomorrow, so be sure to keep a look out if you’re after some JRPGs, interactive novels, or all of the moe-ness.
Scan: Another PC specialist that usually goes big for Black Friday, so expect plenty of cheap PC components and accessories to appear on the day.
Simply Games: Here’s one retailer that has been throwing out deals on a regular basis as of late. There’s no confirmation that they will be taking part in Black Friday, but I honestly don’t think they’ll pass up getting involved.
Steam: Leaks from earlier this year have confirmed the Steam Autumn Sale will kick off at on Novemeber 22nd at 6PM GMT. It’s worth pointing out that the days of daily deals are gone with all discounts going live at the same time, so it’s worth going through everything once the sale does go live.
Tesco: Their countdown clock is currently ticking down, so expect a whole bunch of deals from the supermarket chain from the 20th all the way to November 27th.
Zavvi: Once again, Zavvi look to be going in hard with this year’s Black Friday listings. Their current splash screen definitely suggests this is true, giving us a midnight Friday kick-off time for the discounts. That said, it’s worth pointing out that Zavvi have been somewhat liberal with their “delivery times” in the past, but things may have improved since I last checked up on them.
Where to go for the latest updates
While I will might mention any stand-out deals over on Twitter, I’m no longer in the deals business. In other words, I’m definitely not the one to count on for keeping you up to speed this year. Fret not, though – there are others websites that are more than happy to provide up-to-the-minute updates, and I’ve made a helpful list of the ones I recommend below so that you don’t miss a single thing.
Hot UK Deals: My old stomping ground is without a doubt the most consistent source for the latest UK offers on a daily basis, and Black Friday is no different. While the comments can lead you into the never-ending debate of “what is a deal?” their dedicated Games section is filled with suggestions from its community for all platforms.
Tech Radar: The technology specialist website has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years, and I’m not just saying that because my former Dealspwn editor Brendan now works for them. Their price comparison engine provides the latest offers both on their website and in-browser if you install their plug-in. Expect regular updates and highlights on all things tech (and gaming too) on their website.
Savy Gamer: The no-frills, no-nonsense approach of Lewie Proctor is definitely one to watch for all things gaming, be it console, PC, or mobile if all you want is a price and a link.
But wait – I’m heading in-store? Any advice?
Of course, the high street will be getting involved with Black Friday. We know that GAME will be doing some midnight offers in-store on top of their online deals, and Currys / PC World will no doubt be getting involved too, but are you brave enough to take on the masses? That’s the big question.
To help those who are, we’ve come up with some essential tips* on how to survive the crowds and bring that amazing bargain home.
Grab some riot gear to ensure you’re well protected from rabid shoppers. In the event you do not have access to riot gear, we advise taping pillows to your body to provide a similar effect, and on a budget too! It will also ensure that if you do fall over you will be very comfy.
Acquire a person plow
You could appropriate a snow plow for a similar effect, but in the case you don’t have access to one we advise getting some wood and nails to build your own. Then, simply put it on the front of your shopping trolley and you’ll be getting through those crowds in no time.
Learn Krav Maga
There are always hot heads about during the Black Friday sales, ready to take that bargain out of your hands. To counter this, we advise learning Krav Maga to ensure you are not only protected, but are victorious in a skirmish. While it may be hard to learn the basics in less than a week, we’re confident that if you pay attention to YouTube tutorials you’ll be on the path to success in no time!
Send a surrogate
Why risk yourself when you can stay safe at home? You can do exactly that by sending someone, or something, in your place, allowing you to sit back and drink the beverage of your choice. Recommendations include; upper-class butlers, monkey butlers, self-aware robots, modified B-88 remote control toy, homing pigeons, a pack of squirrels, Wolf from Gladiators in the 90s, a trained Radscorpion, an army of leaf cutter ants.
*Please be advised: All this advice is ridiculous and should not be attempted by absolutely anyone. Carl is currently being punished for publishing this section of the guide and will return once his lobotomy is completed.
In all seriousness, do be safe if you are thinking of going to stores as soon as the sale open, and try and be considerate of others around you (even if they are being arseholes.)