It may seem unusual to post Black Friday shopping advice two days after the event, but gotta live it to write it!
People in the UK aren’t as familiar with Black Friday as Americans are. Most think it is weird and unnecessary. In trying to explain it, I had to start at my first Black Friday. I was a junior at university, I had some money, and it was the first time I wasn’t wrapped up in family stuff over Thanksgiving. My friends and I decided to go out shopping, just to see what we could find. I ended up buying a set of stacking diamond rings for $100. It was an insanely good deal, and I still have the rings. It was my first big purchase for myself. I think that is why I’ve always viewed Black Friday favourably.
Before moving to England I worked in retail for a year at Kohls (a department store like Debenhams but cheaper). It was by far one of my favorite jobs ever. My first real day at work was actually Black Friday. And it wasn’t utter madness like you hear about in the media. People waited patiently in line, they weren’t rude or demanding. It was busy, but not unruly. The crazed mobs are the exception to the Black Friday rule, from what I have seen, people are prepared to wait in long lines and spend hours shopping because they know they are getting a good deal.
In the US, the major department stores do amazing Black Friday deals. They release their ad a week or two in advance, so customers can prepare a list. The stores deliberately stock large quantities of the discounted items because they know they will run out. There is always extra staff, and you can usually get an additional discount off the price advertised. For example, I got a Black Friday deal of a full sized heated blanket for $30 with an extra 15% off. Major steal! I think that if you are determined, in the US you can get some really good bargains on Black Friday. The cost is that you will wait in lines and the stores will be busy, and you will be giving up an entire day just to snatch the savings (worth it if you are truly a #doitcheap person like me).
Black Friday in the UK is not nearly as good. None of the stores have any good discounts. What New Look and M&S fail to realize is that American stores do so well during Black Friday because they deliberately order certain goods to sell cheap on the day (so they aren’t losing money). Where as in the UK, they just discount the full priced items, and not by much. I checked a bunch of stores in person and online to see if I could get any Xmas gifts on the cheap in the UK on Black Friday. I got no deals.
The only worthwhile site for Black Friday in the UK was Amazon. I bought a phone for $20 cheaper than I could find it elsewhere and my husband got headphones for $20 cheaper as well. But unless you need to make a big tech purchase, even the Amazon Black Friday deal’s aren’t that great. Many of them are only slightly discounted.
So, my overall Black Friday impression. In the UK it sucks. The British just haven’t evolved to the smart selling techniques of America. Don’t be tricked into buying any British “Black Friday” deals. However, in the US, Black Friday is a gold mine, if you have the patience or are happy to buy online and wait a week. I bought almost all my family’s gifts online during Black Friday and I saved at least $200. But, I had to do a lot of research, price comparisons and digging through websites to find the best deals. If you are prepared to put in the effort, than Black Friday is a must do for the #doitcheap shopper.
Added bonus (from someone who has worked in retail) about a week after Black Friday a lot of stores will put clothing and home goods into their clearance areas. They need to clear out Black Friday goods and left over autumn products to make room for the December Christmas items. So, check out Kohls or Macy’s clearance rack the week after Thanksgiving and you will probably find some good stuff.