Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

It used to be an American affair.

The term Black Friday allegedly originated in the 1950s, when factory workers reported sick the day after Thanksgiving for having a four-day weekend.

Then, once a year, Black Friday became a shopping event in stores, with crowds of shoppers suffocating malls across America the day after Thanksgiving.

But in recent years, US-based retailers have introduced Black Friday to other countries around the world.

Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday are now firmly rooted in the Australian sales calendar and compete with more traditional sales events such as Boxing Day.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and Roy Morgan predict that a record $ 5.4 billion will be spent in stores and online during the four days from Black Friday to Cyber ​​Monday.

But consumer groups are warning customers to be careful before opening their wallets.

A Choice survey found that almost all Australians (92 per cent) have heard of Black Friday sales, with just over half (52 per cent) expressing interest in buying something during this year’s event.

A group of women with red shopping bags with SALE signs on walk through a mall
People shop during the Black Friday sales shopping event at Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, New York.(Reuters: Shannon Stapleton)

The best deals for Australian shoppers are not always on Black Friday: Choice

Choice conducted a six-month study that tracked the price of four espresso machines across 13 retailers to see when the products were cheapest.

Although retailer prices fluctuated during Choice’s survey, it found that Black Friday generally did not offer the best deals.

“Instead, we found cheaper or similarly priced options on different dates in the six months before – up to 33 percent cheaper in some cases,” according to CHOICE editor Margaret Rafferty.

However, Choice also tracked six-month price fluctuations to determine when each item was most expensive.

“Compared to these prices, Black Friday was cheaper by up to 25 percent,” it says, advising people to check prices across a variety of retailers.

Three women walk past a Black Friday sales sign in a store window.
The Australian Retailers Association predicts that a record $ 5.4 billion will be spent over Black Friday and the Cyber ​​Monday period.(ABC News: John Gunn)

Choice says dealers legally do not have to offer a refund or exchange if something is the wrong size or if a customer finds it cheaper elsewhere.

It also warns that not all products for sale are safe and that the price does not equal performance.

“Especially when it comes to appliances and technology, there is so much variety and choice in the market that it’s easy to be fooled into buying a dud,” Ms. Rafferty said.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has also tracked whether retailers offer customers actual discounts.

In May, online retailer Kogan Australia was sued by the consumer watchdog for offering fake discounts to its customers.

Ruslan Kogan shows a Kogan camera.
In May, Ruslan Kogan’s online store, Kogan Australia, was sued by the consumer’s watchdog to offer fake discounts to its customers.(Delivered)

The UK consumer group gives tips to avoid getting a dud deal

UK-based consumer group “Which one?” also conducted a survey of Black Friday sales.

It found that for UK shoppers, more than 90 per cent of Black Friday deals were at the same price or cheaper in the six months before the sales event last year.

The consumer association asked shoppers to make sure the discounts were “really genuine” prior to this year’s sales.

It analyzed goods by looking at the prices offered by six companies every day in the six months before and after 2020’s Black Friday, as well as on the day itself.

It found that 184 out of 201 items from six retailers, which included Amazon, AO, Argos, Currys, John Lewis and Richer Sounds, were priced the same or cheaper before Black Friday in 2020.

Shoppers walk past a message at a liquor store in London on November 20, 2021.
British shoppers have been warned to check that offers are “really genuine”.(Reuters: Toby Melville)

Which one? suggests that before shoppers rush to impulse buy a discounted product, that they check the price of the product across multiple sites and any footnotes about the offer.

It said retailers often highlight savings with red “as a way to influence customers and they can be quite misleading”.

“When we looked at items on special offers across major retailers for the first half of 2020, we found that more products were listed at their lower price for longer than they were at their full ‘var’ price,” stood there.

“We have also found retailers using old RRPs (recommended retail prices) as ‘item’ prices, so that they reflect the value of the item when it was first released, not its current value.

“Instead of automatically relying on anchor prices, it’s better to check other stores’ prices to try to find out the true value of the item you are buying.”

The consumer group also suggests looking for banknotes or signs explaining offers, noting that “the rules governing special offers are vague”.

“We have seen notes explaining that the product was actually only at the higher price for fourteen days, six months before the current offer,” it said.

In response to Which? study, which was reported by British media, Amazon told the BBC that it was trying to “offer our customers great value thanks to low prices all year round”, and that customers “could easily compare prices so they could make an informed purchasing decision” .

‘Sales madness’ tipped to Black Friday, Cyber ​​Monday, but supply shortages threaten

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra tipped a “sales frenzy” over the Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday shopping period.

Paul Zahra is sitting at a table in a restaurant.
Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra predicts a “sales frenzy” in Australia over the Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday shopping period.(ABC News: Jerry Rickard)

“For the past two years, November has beaten December as the biggest month for Australian retail sales throughout the year.

“Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday can be attributed to this trend as people make some great deals and shop early for Christmas.”

But he warned consumers to be prepared for delays in the arrival of their product due to supply chain problems.

“With our supply chains under significant pressure, consumers need to act early if they want their products to arrive in time for Christmas,” he said.

“There are several issues that retailers are navigating at the moment – ranging from COVID impacts, shipping delays and threats of labor disputes from dock workers and delivery drivers. There is a perfect storm of problems so consumers need to come in quickly to ensure that they get the products they want. “

Choice says that while better discounts can be found at other times of the year if it’s an item you’re desperate for, it may still be worth adding the item to the shopping cart on Black Friday before it becomes unavailable due to a lack of supplies.

“Our investigation also showed that over time, more stores no longer had the item in stock,” Rafferty said.

“This is typical of the appliance cycle – as products get older, they are often replaced with newer versions from the manufacturer.”

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