Beware the Black Friday pitfalls

Sarah Coles
Asda Black Friday event - London
Asda Black Friday event - London

Black Friday has officially come to the UK. And while we may be excited about the bargains we could pick up this Friday, we need to be aware that this isn't just an opportunity to save money - it's also an opportunity to spend a fortune on things we don't really want. There are seven pitfalls of Black Friday, and we should all be alive to them before we even think about joining a queue.

Black Friday is traditionally an American phenomenon, when on the first Friday after Thanksgiving, stores hold sales offering massive discounts, and Americans queue for hours before charging into stores to get their bargains. Now it has one to the UK, so a number of shops have decided to join the fun.

If you're going to make the most of the day, you need to know the seven potential pitfalls and how to avoid them:

1. Not checking the website and adverts in advance
Many of the retailers are trying to build excitement by advertising their Black Friday deals, so you can check them in advance, do a price comparison, and make a reasoned decision in the comfort of your own home. This is the place to be making purchasing decisions - not in the middle of a scrum when you're fighting over the last bargains on the shelf.

2. Being upsold
The 'doorbuster deals' are the massive bargains that shops use in order to attract crowds. Once these have gone (usually very quickly), there are higher-spec versions of similar items on sale. Many of the people who went there for 70% off a mid-range 40 inch TV may arrive to discover they have sold out. The risk is that you turn to the 20% off high spec 46 inch TV next to it, and tell yourself it's the right bargain for you.

3. Buying for the sake of it
When you are caught up in the adrenaline, it's easy to kind yourself throwing things into the trolley on the grounds that it'll make a good present for someone. The chances are that it won't. If you come back with anything that you wouldn't otherwise have bought, then you have got a terrible deal.

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The 5 Craziest Things That Have Ever Happened on Black Friday
The 5 Craziest Things That Have Ever Happened on Black Friday

4. Getting carried away
It may seem like a ridiculous warning, but there have been Black Friday fights, arrests, serious injuries and even deaths. No bargain is ever worth the risk of injury, so if you find yourself arguing over the last item on the shelf, or feeling uncomfortable in the crowd, walk away. You can still get a great deal in three days' time on Cyber Monday, from the safety of your sofa.

5. Going without a budget
The fact that you may have to be flexible in a Black Friday sale means there's a risk people will go without a budget. If you're buying for Christmas, have a budget for each person in mind, and don't be tempted into going over it - no matter how good the reduction.
6. Going without a plan
If you want to get several things in the same shop, or items from a few shops, then you need to plan your trip carefully to make sure you get all your bargains as quickly as possible. If you want a couple of doorbusters from the same shop, you'll need to take a friend and split up to make sure you get to them before they sell out.

7. Spending money you cannot afford
If you end up having to borrow in order to afford your bargains, then the chances are that you'll end up paying far more for it in the long run. If you add in a few months of high interest borrowing, you can easily erode any savings you make from buying in the sale, and leave you worse off than if you'd waited until you could actually afford it and bought it at full price.

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