Smart shopping tips to help you make the most of Black Friday sales

Clara V.
Clara V.Published on 15 Nov 2021

Black Friday has overtaken even Boxing Day sales to be the single biggest shopping event of the year for Australians. Along with Cyber Monday (which began as the “online” equivalent of Black Friday), Black Friday has been the sale that many Aussies wait for to make purchases - big or small.

It makes sense too - it’s the last opportunity to get heavily discounted goods before Christmas gift-giving. It’s because of this that Cyber Monday and Black Friday deals can understandably be hard on the wallet, which is why it’s good to be mindful before, during, and after you shop.

Whether you’re buying in-store or online, we have some tips to help you shop smartly and safely, so you can score great deals that you won't regret.

A man holding a credit card and entering his payment details as he online shops.

When is Black Friday in 2021?

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are on the Friday and Monday after Thanksgiving in the United States, which means this year they’re on:

  • Black Friday: Friday 26th November 2021.
  • Cyber Monday: Monday 29th November 2021.

If you’re shopping on international websites, make sure you’re aware of any time differences so that you don’t inadvertently miss out on sales.

How long do Black Friday sales last?

Strictly speaking, Black Friday just lasts the one day - as does Cyber Monday. However, many retailers have sales before and after these days too, with many offering up to a week or two - or even a month - of deals.

Black Friday shopping tips

1. Do your research.

Ideally, you should be doing your research well before Black Friday rolls around, so that you can get the lowest prices and know the best time to shop for different items.

Track prices leading up to sales.

Not all discounts are deals. Know the recommended retail price of the product you’re after, and take into consideration any fluctuations in price before Black Friday. Some stores will just reduce a highly inflated price to something closer to fair market value - this isn’t a deal.

Price comparison apps - such as ShopSavvy, BuyVia, and Shopular - can help you pull price information from a variety of retailers so that you can find the lowest price.

Stay in the loop.

If you have a favourite store or know what you want ahead of time, consider subscribing to retailer newsletters, downloading their apps, and following their social media accounts. Push notifications can let you instantly know when an item you’re after has been discounted.

Find out what kind of products will and won't be discounted.

Just because there’ll be crazy sales everywhere, doesn’t mean that you can score a deal on everything you buy. Black Friday can be a bit of a hit-or-miss for some types of products, as it tends to focus on ‘spot discounting’ rather than discounting a wide range of products.

Anything that’s already in high demand or is hard to find probably won’t be included in sales, so if you’re after the latest Xbox or PlayStation, don’t expect Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts.

Generally, electronics will have the biggest discounts over the long weekend of sales, while you’ll get better sales on linen and bedding in the winter months, as stores ready new spring threads.

Many retailers are also keen to continue their discounts into January - particularly for electronics and white goods (such as fridges) - because it’s usually a quiet month for shopping, as everyone is off holidaying or giving their wallet a break after Christmas.

Read reviews before you buy.

Of course, reading user reviews is also a good way to research whether a product is worth buying. On our site we have thousands of reviews for everything from coffee machines to 4K Ultra HD TVs, so you can find a product that’s right for you.

2. Set and stick to your budget.

Big markdowns are designed to tempt you to be more impulsive with your spending. After all, it’s easy to think that you’re really “saving” when you’re spending less on an item, but that’s not really true.

Set a budget, make a list of what you want to buy in advance, and track your balance as you’re spending - this will help prevent you from having serious buyer’s regret.

If you shop with credit, do so wisely.

Using a credit card to shop may give you extended warranties and rewards points, but when you overspend with credit, you could easily end up paying more in interest if your balance takes longer to repay.

3. Know your rights.

Whether you’re buying in-store or online shopping, you’re covered by a range of consumer protection laws. Retailers that sell to Australia need to abide by Australian Consumer Law, but some can still make it difficult for you to resolve issues that arise.

Reputable online retailers should have plenty of information about the terms and conditions of use, privacy, returns, and dispute resolution. They should also have clear contact details available so that you know who to contact if you have issues with your order or want to ask any questions about their products.

You can always return faulty products.

Retailers are obligated to offer you a refund, replacement, or repair on goods with major faults, even if the item was discounted and the store has stated that they don’t refund sale items.

4. Only shop from reputable sites.

Scammers make a killing during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, so make sure you hit the brakes and know the warning signs of a scam before you checkout your shopping cart.

When researching and shopping online, be careful when dealing with unsolicited emails and links to social media that advertise deals that sound way too good to be true: anything that asks for your bank or login details could be a scam.

A few tips:

  • Check that the site you’re buying from is reputable and has positive reviews (preferably on a different review platform).
  • Never send your bank or card details via email.
  • Avoid making financial transactions when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi.

Only use secure payment methods.

You should only use secure payment methods like PayPal, Bpay, or your credit card when you buy online. Don’t pay via a direct bank deposit or unusual methods such as Bitcoin, as this money will likely never be recovered if you’ve paid a scammer.

Check that the website address has a padlock and ‘https’ at the start - not just ‘http’. You can read more about how to shop safely online on the Australian Cyber Security Centre website.

A woman shopping for a pair of headphons in an electronics store.

5. Check before you buy.

Return policies

All the research in the world may still have you buying something that you end up just not really wanting. It’s a good idea to only buy from retailers that have a decent return policy, with adequate time to let you try a product before you need to return it.

Don’t hesitate to return things you don’t really need or want even if you think you snagged them at a great price. Make sure you keep your receipts - some brick-and-mortar stores will also email you a receipt if you ask them to, just in case you misplace your physical copy.

Price-match policies

Price matching is a good opportunity to get the lowest price at your favourite store.

Delivery cost

If you’re paying for delivery, see whether your friends or family were planning on buying from the same retailer so that you bundle your purchases and qualify for free delivery - or at least split delivery costs.

Compatibility

If you’re shopping from an overseas retailer, make sure that the product you’re buying is suitable for use in Australia.

Plenty of consumers get sucked in by more competitive prices overseas, only to find that the tech product they’ve bought doesn’t have the right voltage for use here, or the baby chair they’ve bought doesn’t meet Australian safety standards.

6. Check after you buy.

Check your bank statements with a fine tooth comb after the sales so that you can identify any unusual debits.

Looking through your statements can also help you see whether you’ve stuck to your budget, and can give you an idea of whether or not you need to return items that haven’t turned out to be as much of a steal as you thought at the time (we get it, getting sucked into advertising happens to the best of us).

If you’ve returned items that don’t suit you and you need replacements, fear not: you can still score sweet deals on Green Monday (the 13th of December this year) which marks the last day you can buy online to have products delivered in time for Christmas. If this doesn’t work out, there’s always Boxing Day.

The bottom line

Be mindful of how easy it is to get caught up in the Black Friday frenzy. Many consumers wind up spending more than they can afford and buying products they wouldn’t have otherwise thought to buy without the discount.

Keep our tips in mind - and all your receipts - and happy (and safe) shopping!

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