Black Friday shoppers need to be careful of ‘too good to be true’ online deals, experts advise

With research conducted by Pink Casino, for The Bargain Hunters Study, revealing that searches for online sales have risen substantially over lockdown in the UK, experts are urging shoppers to look out for ‘too good to be true’ sales in the run up to Black Friday.

 The study found that searches for online offers spiked during lockdown, with ‘free shipping’ seeing a 22% increase, ‘free trial’ up 32%, and ‘cheap clothes’ queries seeing a massive 46% rise in interest, as Brits flocked to online retailers in place of the high street.

Shoppers are most likely to look for discounts and deals when shopping at Amazon, Next, Debenhams, ASOS and Matalan, with the preferred offers coming out as ‘cashback’, ‘buy now pay later’, ‘sale’, ‘free trial’ and ‘free shipping’.

And with more people expected to turn to online retailers in the run up to Christmas than ever before due to Covid-19 restrictions, it’s crucial that shoppers learn what makes a good deal and how to spot a scam before entering their payment details online. 

When discussing what makes a good online deal, Ethan Taub, CEO of Loanry, says: “The sign of a good online deal is if the sale markdown clearly shows you how much you’re saving, and you’re able to double check the saving via online comparison sites.”

David Baddeley, Director at Scottish Trust Deed, believes that a good sale is one that translates to savings on multiple items, saying “a good online sale will cover a lot of the store and offer a blanket discount on everything.” If the sale covers various departments, it makes it seem more credible as it’s not a one-off markdown on an item that may be faulty. 

Meanwhile, James Lewin, Marketing Manager at Bring Me Drink, believes the most important component of any sale is the desirability of the items that are knocked down. He says, “A good sale can be dictated by a person’s needs – for example, if  you need a new TV and there’s a TV on offer at that moment, that can be a convenient sale for you.

“But I would say that a great sale can be determined by the amount of money you save on products that matter to you as a consumer. For example, when you’ve found 20% off a product that you like the look of or have been after for a while.”

But with online retailers expecting an influx of customers over Black Friday, the likelihood of scammers setting up fake sites offering mock discounts to take advantage of vulnerable shoppers is also set to increase. 

So, what are the warning signs shoppers should look out for? James Lewin urges consumers to “first, make sure that the website you’re buying from is secure. You can usually do this by looking for the padlock symbol in your browser.

“Similarly, a lot of it is common sense. If something worth £100 is being sold for £20 (and is in mint condition), you should be wary about that. While some circumstances will justify a discount like that, like the company shutting down, it could also be too good to be true.”

Petra Odak, Chief Marketing Officer at Better Proposals, agrees with the above, reiterating that “a sale is too good to be true if you’re getting something virtually for free or with a minimum amount of money spent in exchange for a big reward.”

Ethan Taub warns shoppers to be wary about timescales: “if a retailer offers a sale on an item for 24 hours, it can sometimes mean shop owners are trying to get rid of stock and sell them as fast as they can – and you might not even be getting a better price.”

Shoppers also need to be aware of what they’re spending if they’re buying from multiple retailers on Black Friday, as the study shows that ‘buy now pay later’ apps are the third most-searched discount globally, and peak in the run up to Black Friday (10-16 November). 

While these apps that allow payments to be made in installments can be beneficial for shoppers purchasing items before payday, it’s important to ensure that you’re not spending more than you can afford without realising before the next installment is taken. 

The data also shows that savvy shoppers look to take advantage of ‘cashback’ apps and offers when buying around Black Friday, as searches for that term peak between the 24-30 of November – with Black Friday falling on the 27th of November this year.

To find out more about what discounts and deals Brits look for when shopping online – and which parts of the UK are the biggest fans of a bargain – please visit The Bargain Hunters Study at 

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