Black Friday: The Nightmare Before Christmas

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If you’ve been living under a rock, as a hermit, or as one of those Brits who tends to shun all things American you may not know what Black Friday is, or indeed that it is soon to grace us with its presence.

What is Black Friday?

With US shoppers having finally fought off the bloating and meat-sweats caused by the big ol’ pumpkin pie and turkey carbfest that is Thanksgiving, traditionally they have celebrated with a trip to the mall - or in more recent times, the internet.

This has led to ‘Black Friday’, what is now known as the busiest shopping day of the year and the official start to the Christmas shopping season - this year on 28th November. On this day, in the spirit of spending, many of the largest retailers now put on massive sales and advertise them using verbs normally reserved for horror movies, with cutting and slashing of prices resulting in epic scale bargains.

The resultant shopping fever is so infectious that it is has now spread to the UK, with retailers like Amazon, Asda and Argos jumping on the bandwagon with similar promises of smashing and bashing and bludgeoning prices in the head with a blunt object.

What is Cyber Monday?

Such is the tenacity of said 'shopping fever' that after the initial Black Friday penetration, it takes a restorative weekend to mutate then rears its ugly head once more as Cyber Monday (1st December 2014).

Think of it as Black Friday 2: This Time It’s Impersonal. Symptoms of price-thwarting remain similar only this time it is confined to the internet, the term ‘cyber’ apparently being used by marketers to encourage online shopping (presumably because by this stage the Home Office has declared Threat Level Midnight and feral bargain-hunters are now quarantined in their homes).

What shall I do?

The problem with Black Friday and Cyber Monday is that there is now so much fuss and hype in the lead-up that consumers are prone to throwing out all logic and reason usually involved with making (what are still rather expensive) purchases. In order to circumvent the hysteria and actually save some money, follow our helpful tips.

Tip 1: If you’re going to buy, decide what.

Although most retailers keep quiet about specific items on offer until the day, if you’re after one of this season’s smartphones or trendy home electricals it is a pretty safe bet that they’ll be on offer over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period. Do your product comparisons now - Samsung Galaxy Alpha or the S5? Nespresso or Dolce Gusto? Pick your product before buying something you later regret for the sake of saving a few quid in a flash sale.

Tip 2: Start early

Get ahead of the zombie apocalypse by seeking out the sales before the masses. This year for example Amazon UK is instigating an entire week of deals culminating in the Black Friday weekend frenzy. You can already see discounts and flash sales, and preview the upcoming deals on the website now. Most other sales start at 8am on the 28th.

Tip 3: Shop around

Don’t be afraid of losing out by taking a little time to look elsewhere for your chosen items. Whilst it is notably the big transatlantic retailers such as Apple and Walmart-owned Asda that participate in the price-slaying festivities, this year will also see the inclusion of Currys, John Lewis and, so find out what’s sold where.

Tip 4: Get free delivery

If you’re planning to buy from Amazon remember you can get a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, which gives you free 1-day delivery. Students can get six months free, with 50% off thereafter.

Tip 5: It’s mostly tech and electricals. Do you need tech and electricals? If not, don’t buy any tech and electricals.

When asked about Black Friday earlier this month, Sainsbury’s non-food Director James Brown told The Telegraph, “It is predominantly an electrical event, although last year it started eking into homewear.” In 2013,’s most popular items on the day included Nespresso coffee makers, the latest Sony Playstation and GHD hair straighteners. They may be reduced, but they’re not free, so you may just not need them. As the proverb goes, ‘What’s even cheaper than buying Black Friday bargains is buying nothing at all.’

Tip 6: If you are looking outside the homeware department. . .

After a steal in the fashion department or some non-techie Christmas gifts? Check out our Black Friday deals page on the day for some exclusive deals from the likes of Jack Wills, Topman and Clarks. That’s if you’ve finished shunning Hallowe’en.