Black Friday is firmly entrenched in the minds of many people following televised scenes and newspaper reports of people trampling over each other, general hysteria and hyped up shoppers trading blows in their bid to grab the best bargains.

And it’s coming again, with Black Friday sales set to hit the shops on November 23 followed by Cyber Monday on November 26.

Black Friday is a traditional US sales day that follows Thanksgiving Day. It’s now a global sales day and in a sense is the start of the Christmas creep. The online shopping industry decided to get in on the act by introducing Cyber Monday to persuade people into shopping online.

While the calendar may nail down these two shopping days to the 23 and 26 of November, expect sales to happen both before and after these dates. In the case of Cyber Monday, in some places it also has morphed into Cyber Week.

If you are planning to take part part in the retail whirlwind here are a few tips on about deals on computer and all things electronic.

Watch out for the catch

First up its worth mentioning that not all deals are actual deals. For instance, an online retailer might be offering a £400 desktop computer for a Black Friday deal of £250. ‘Not bad’, you might think, you can’t turn your nose up at a £150 saving. 

But, and here’s the catch, the same retailer might well have been selling the same desktop computer for £270, ahead of Black Friday. So what may at first glance appear to be a bargain is in reality disingenuous. For sure the desktop PC may have sold for £400 when the retailer first introduced it, but it may not have used that price for some time.

This is a fairly common tactic. A US-based website, Wirecutter, discovered all is not it seems in the smoke and mirrors world of retail sales. It said:
“Last year, from the Monday before Black Friday through to Cyber Monday, Wirecutter had 55 editors and writers, in addition to 10 support staff working around the clock to find only the best deals on our researched and tested picks. We scanned 78,400 deals and found 453 worth posting.”

That last sentence is jarring and is worth keeping in mind when cruising for bargains. It doesn’t mean to say you can’t find bargains, you clearly can, but to use a well-worn phrase you need to “sort the wheat from the chaff.”

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Big names, big deals?

Check the following to get a sense of what the four biggest computer/smartphone retailers are likely to be offering.
  • Apple is traditionally stingier than Scrooge on Black Friday/ Cyber Monday and you’re unlikely to find heavily discounted deals in its stores. You might be offered gift cards when you buy from an Apple store but don’t expect much more. That said, online retailers are prepared to take a hit on what are probably already hefty margins by offering deals on the latest Apple tech. For instance, in the past some online outfits have offered savings of between £100 to £250 on what are heavily priced items such as an Phone, iPad, MacBook and Apple Watch. You can expect to find reduced prices on the latest iPhone models, Mac Airbooks, iPads and watches. It’s also worth looking at websites that deal exclusively in computers. 
  • Dell will also be doing its best to maintain the hysteria. It is already promoting Black Friday on its website in a bid to get people to register for news of hot deals. In fact, Dell couldn’t hold its hand and actually launched a huge Black Friday sales in July this year selling off laptops, desktop PCs and HD monitors. If this sale is anything to go by it will be offering savings of between £100 and £250 on a range of laptops, desktops and monitors. 
  • Amazon doesn’t hold back when it comes to Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal. However it does place a lot of emphasis on its own products such as the smart Echo speaker, the Amazon Kindle e-reader and the Amazon Fire TV stick.  You can expect to make savings of between £20 and £50 approximately. That said there are rumours circulating that this year the online behemoth is also planning to offer savings on gaming consoles such as the Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation probably in the region of £100 or so. You can also expect discounts on smart TVs. 
  • Carphone Warehouse (UK) tends to name Black Friday/Cyber Monday, their 'Black Tag' event. If you’re in the market for a new mobile and/or contract this is probably the place to be. If you hold a black belt in Mua Thai then you won’t be put off by the in-store swarming crowds. If you’re not up for elbows in the ribs, crushed toes and similar you’ll be better of online. There’s no word whether in-store and online offers will be the same but there is a growing expectation that there will be money off Samsung and Apple devices, on both pay monthly and SIM free contracts.

Retailers pushing the boat out

  • If you’re looking for tech bargains in the UK the following retailers are worth keeping an eye on: Argos, Amazon UK, Currys PC World, eBay, and even Tesco. 
  • In the US it’s the usual suspects such as Target, Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon. However, it’s also worth checking smaller retailers such as MacMall and B&H Photo, particularly if you are looking for savings on Apple Macbooks. 
  • Black Friday is the biggest day for shopping in France, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway.  As such the traditional big boys such as Carrefour and Fnac/Darty in France are expected to offer electronic goods discounts while Eligigantin, Webhallen, Media Markt, Elkjøp Norge and Expert are the ones to look out for in the Nordics.