It seems to have earned its name courtesy of police complaints in Philadelphia about shopper congestion as consumers flocked to retail outlets at the beginning of the sales season.
Although the day of Thanksgiving remains a purely American event, the global presence of American retailers and the presumably universal joy shoppers get from sales has seen the event become a diary item worldwide.
But how to get the very best deals online during this apocalypse of consumerism? Here are five excellent tips to achieve just that.
1. Get registered with sites and retailers
One of the easiest ways to get deals quickly is to sign up for them. AO.com told Sky News that consumers should register for online accounts with retailers ahead of Black Friday itself so they could be the first to know about the best deals around.
“Most retailers offer a sign-up service so that you can enter your email address and be notified as soon as the bargains go live, saving you time and giving you a gentle reminder so that you don’t miss out on the best deals,” they added.
For those particularly concerned about their privacy, a throwaway address on a free email service could save them a life’s worth of spam in exchange for a weekend of online shopping.
AO.com added that shoppers should also look to get on the retailer’s apps and social media to get direct messages about new deals over the course of Black Friday.
2. Know what you want to buy in advance
Kate Stacey, the head of buying at Pure Collection, says: “It’s far too easy to get carried away on Black Friday and end up over-spending on items you don’t need.
“My tip is to plan ahead. If you’ve had your eye on an item for a while, or are on the hunt for a present for someone special, i.e. a cashmere jumper, pop it in your saved items/basket on the site ahead of Black Friday and check back when the deals start.
“You can even set up Google alerts to ensure you don’t miss out. That way you can see what discount, if any, the item you really want has on the day,” Ms Stacey added.
“This is a simple way of guaranteeing you only spend on things you want, and get the best deal possible!”
A spokesperson for AO.com agreed, telling Sky News that shoppers should “make a list of all the items you’d ideally like to buy, prioritise them and most importantly stick to your list”.
“Be strict with yourself. This means you won’t overspend but you can still purchase everything you ideally need whilst saving the most amount of money – hurrah!
“And, a lot of the online retailers have will online reviews, so you can do your homework and make sure you choose the best products too,” AO.com added.
3. Be aware of the competition
Black Friday won its name after all due to shopper congestion in Philadelphia, and scenes of consumerist carnage are a regular on social media at this time of year. Even if you’re shopping online,
AO.com told Sky News: “Timing is everything. Due to the large volume of visitors some websites couldn’t handle this last year and crashed before customers could grab their bargain.
“Be ahead of the game and shop at times that would be typically quieter to avoid this happening and enjoy a smoother online shopping experience.”
But how do this? Fortunately the team at SEMrush shared their data with Sky News showing what the most popular search terms are and which sites get the most traffic – and thus where consumers might need to be at their quickest to snap up the deals.
The most popular search term “Black Friday Deals” is going to be hotly contested on major search engines, so digging down deep into the results may find hidden gems.
Devices like Apple AirPods and the Nintendo Switch are also appearing quite high on a lot of those searches, suggesting that’s where the demand is greatest for deals.
The most popular retail website on Black Friday is Argos, according to SEMRush, but Curry’s, Amazon and Asda are also up there – all of whom sell a range of electronics devices.
Olga Andrienko, the head of global marketing at SEMrush told Sky News: “While some are predicting that Black Friday may slow down this year, our information shows that online searches are set to rise.
“Whether that is because UK shoppers are becoming more discerning about their deals or shopping around for the best ones, Black Friday represents a great pre-Christmas shopping boost for budgeting Brits.
“It’s often the tech deals that prove most popular, as people look to get top items like laptops and games consoles at knockdown prices.
“This year it looks like demand will be highest for the Nintendo Switch and Apple products including personal tech items such as AirPods and fitness trackers.
“Those who find an especially good deal on such items should snap them up quickly before demand outstrips supply,” added Ms Andrienko.
4. Don’t let the “sales” blind you
Consumer group Which? has found that only 5% of deals on Black Friday will actually offer products at their cheapest.
It advises shoppers to take the following steps to check whether retailers are playing a trick on them:
- Check the price of the product on offer across multiple shops
- Check the price history – Use the Which? Reviews app to make a shortlist of the products you want to look out for in the Black Friday sales, and then look them up on websites such as Pricerunner and CamelCamelCamel (Amazon only) to find out their price history.
- Look out for notes or signs explaining offers. The additional details hidden beneath an asterisk could reveal a lot.
- Be wary of ‘was prices’ or RRP comparisons – Offers like ‘was £100, now £50’ can exaggerate the discount you’re getting.
- But do try to find out what the real RRP is. Not all manufacturers have RRPs, but some do and choose to display them on their own websites. If you have a product in mind you’d like to buy, check the manufacturer’s website to find out what its true price is.
5. No deal is better than a bad deal
No, that’s not a Brexit reference. The truth is, as Denise Bohm – senior communications manager at Shpock – told Sky News: “One way to get a Black Friday bargain is to sit it out altogether and wait to buy second-hand.
“We know that after people buy their new Black Friday gadgets, they start selling the old items they replaced on online second-hand marketplaces like ours.
“Opting for second-hand electronics and clothes is one of the best ways to lead a more sustainable life. By waiting until the week after, you can still get a great Black Friday-style bargain while reducing costs and the impact on the environment.”
Maybe that’s worth a punt then.