Consumer expert issues warning to shoppers relying on Black Friday for Christmas bargains

By Victoria Jones

A consumer expert has warned shoppers that Black Friday might not have the usual bargains this year.

Every November, many shoppers look forward to the frenzy of Black Friday in the run-up to Christmas, but the trend could change this year amid reports of product shortages, a driver drought and higher shipping costs.

Consumer expert Tom Church, co-founder of money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk, said: "Many of us get our savings ready for big events like Black Friday, as the discounts are a big incentive and they help us to get Christmas presents for less.

"However, a number of issues are impacting the UK this year, such as fewer lorry drivers, massive order delays and shipping costs hitting the roof.

"There aren’t as many products available this year due to logistics issues across every sector, with problems such as imports from areas like South East Asia affecting the supply chain."

Tom added, "I think this year Black Friday is going to be very different. Due to limited supply of computer chips, electronics such as video game consoles, monitors, and tablets may be in restricted availability.

"That often means prices are kept high. Lorry drivers across every industry are in demand, which may mean slower delivery times and reduced volume of stock available. Again, this all tends to keep prices high.

"If brands are unable to compete on volume discounts, where they buy huge amounts and flog ‘em cheap, they have to compete in a different way. One way may be longer Black Friday sale periods, so I’m expecting to see Black Friday sales beginning on November 1 this year, and perhaps even ‘Pre-Black Friday’ marketed sales at the end of October."

Many companies have said in recent weeks that they are struggling to fill shelves and meet demand from customers coming out of lockdown.

An historic shortage of lorry drivers has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to one estimate, 30,000 driving licence tests for heavy goods vehicles did not take place last year due to social distancing.

Tom Church warned that the financial strain individuals are currently facing is also impacting the business sector.

"Events like Black Friday lead to a huge surge in consumer demand, which means there is a huge short-term demand placed on operations.

"This can often be difficult for businesses to navigate, as extra staff will be needed for a short amount of time, and supplies can be difficult to source even without the problems we are currently facing.

"Instead of relying on Black Friday for Christmas bargains, I recommend looking for presents earlier in the year and planning ahead."

Here, LatestDeals.co.uk users outlines their best money-saving tips and tricks in the run-up to Christmas:

  1. Shop sales throughout the year. Stores will regularly have discounted stock and special offers, so keep an eye out whenever you’re shopping and put some bargains to one side for Christmas.

  2. Check your local charity shop. These places aren’t just homes for outdated curtains and old-fashioned ornaments - there will often be brand new items in stock for a fraction of the price you’d expect. Why not look for some hidden treasures?

  3. ‘Save your tins. Tinned food will keep for a long time, so if you have some in the back of the cupboard that could work for Christmas dinner, keep them to one side so your grocery bill isn’t as high in the run-up to the big day.

  4. ‘Save your loyalty card points. Just by scanning your loyalty card after a routine shop in your favourite supermarket, you can rack up points over time which can be exchanged for some hefty discounts. As most big supermarkets have clothes and toys aisles, you can buy plenty of presents for the kids without the eye-watering bill to match.

  5. ‘Collect gift vouchers. Whenever you do a weekly or monthly shop, buy a gift voucher - either for that shop or somewhere else. For example, if you always buy your Christmas presents in a rush on Amazon at the end of year, why not try buying a £5 Amazon gift voucher whenever you do a food shop over the course of the year? You’ll end up with enough to cover everyone’s presents - and no need to find extra money to pay for it!’

Tom shared his own tips to save for Christmas:

  1. Set up deal alerts now for presents. This can be easily done on the Latest Deals app. Just type in your search term and tap on the Create Alert button. That way, you’ll be notified whenever new content which matches your search is shared.

  2. Agree with friends not to buy each other presents. It will remove the pressure to find the perfect gift, and avoid awkward situations such as finding out you spent much more on your friend - or vice versa! Why not offer a free ‘gift’ instead, such as looking after your friend’s children for an afternoon to give them a break?

  3. Plan ahead and create something instead. If you’re a good artist, a nice painting or drawing would go well with a cheap frame from a shop like B&M or Poundland. Alternatively, check out stores like Hobbycraft or the Latest Deals Arts & Crafts Facebook group for inspiration.

  4. Delay Christmas and snap up the Boxing Day bargains. Prices will only increase as the rundown to the big day gets closer, so why not bypass putting a huge dent in your bank balance and wait until the inevitable reductions in January? It’s only a week or two after Christmas - and in some cases, discounts can begin as early as a few days later!

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