11 expert tips and tricks for Black Friday shopping – your essential survival guide for 2018
Deals, ahoy! Black Friday 2018 is now just around the corner, so cut-through the madness and learn how to shop Black Friday like a pro with the help of our battle-tested expert survival guide. All the Black Friday tips and tricks you need are right here.
Here are our expert bits of advice to help you nab the hottest bargains this Black Friday. With multiple decades of combined experience shopping and finding the greatest Black Friday discounts, we’re here to help you snare only the best deals and avoid the rest of the noise.
1) Black Friday shopping tips – follow the leaks
Black Friday deals can often be vetted well in advance courtesy of retailer promotional materials. Sometimes you might spot these in your local newspaper, and other times they might surface online and be shared by sites like our own.
Knowing what deals to expect in advance is obviously a major boon, as it can help you craft the perfect Black Friday wishlist (more on that in a second), budget accordingly and – where absolutely necessary – plan your trip to the shops strategically.
To give you an example, take this deals cheat sheets from top US retailer Walmart. Wherever you’re based, you can learn from these leaks the products likely to get the best discounts this year – 4K TVs, console bundles and smart home gadgets all look set to feature heavily in 2018.
Related: Best Black Friday TV deals
2) Black Friday shopping tips – get in on early Black Friday deals
Black Friday takes place on Friday November 23, but the Black Friday deals madness takes in nearly the entire month of November these days – meaning you’re already in a position to save and save big!
To illustrate our point, take this early Black Friday deal from UK pay TV provider Sky.
Right now, for just £55 a month over 18 months, you’ll get a bundle that includes Sky Entertainment – which features over 300 channels including heavy-hitters Sky Atlantic, Comedy Central, and MTV, plus the full Sky Cinema line-up – and the new Sky Ultimate On Demand add-on, netting you Sky Box Sets and Netflix streaming as well.
In terms of hardware, you’ll get the 4K-ready 2TB Sky Q box with multi-room support, and the aforementioned free 43-inch LG Ultra HD TV worth £399. You’ll have to shell out £9.95 for delivery of the TV, and the 2TB Sky Q box comes with an installation fee of £75, but without this Black Friday deal you’d pay £65 a month for the same bundle and not get a free telly thrown in, so this represents a clear bargain.
Over the course of the 18-month contract, that means you’ll save a total of £180 on your TV package and get that top-notch 43-inch 4K Ultra HD telly to enjoy all that content on for nothing – making for a total savings of £580.
That’s just one early example to give you an idea of how good early Black Friday deals can be – and give you a taste of the kind of independent deals analysis you can expect on Black Friday itself here on Trusted Reviews.
3) Black Friday shopping tips – make a wishlist
It might sound obvious, but going into Black Friday with an idea of what you actually want to buy should be your first step. Otherwise, you might find yourself making impulse purchases you don’t really need. So make a list of what you’re after beforehand, be that in a Google Keep list or just classic pen and paper.
If you’re doing a lot of your online shopping via Amazon, then add the products you want to your basket beforehand. The basket will actually tell you if the prices of its contents have changed (either up or down), so you can instantly see if the products you want have been discounted.
The Amazon Assistant browser extension is also great for compiling a list, as it will let you add products to your basket when browsing other retailers – as well as showing you Amazon’s competing price. You can download it here.
Based on our experience, some of the key product categories to look out for this year are:
- Headphone Black Friday deals
- Smartwatch Black Friday deals
- Laptop Black Friday deals
- Nintendo Switch Black Friday deals
- PS4 Black Friday deals
- Xbox One Black Friday deals
- Dyson Black Friday deals
- Coffee Machine Black Friday deals
4) Black Friday shopping tips – it’s not just tech that’s for sale
Far from it! Black Friday sees pretty much everything under the sun discounted, so whether you’re looking to stock your cellar with some choice tipples ahead of Christmas or bag a great deal on toys to stick under the tree, the November shopping extravaganza has something to you.
In particular, we’d recommend paying attention to savings on mobile phone and broadband contracts, as well as TV packages and streaming devices. Prices typically plummet around Black Friday, but rather than enjoying a one-off saving, you’ll be saving all year round.
- Broadband Black Friday deals
- Mobile phone Black Friday deals
- SIM-only Black Friday deals
- iPhone Black Friday deals
- Fire TV and Fire TV Stick Black Friday deals
- Apple TV Black Friday deals
- Chromecast Black Friday deals
5) Black Friday shopping tips – know your retailers
Most retailers go hard on Black Friday, but some stand out from the crowd with the breadth of the savings on offer.
With that in mind, the key retailers to look out for this year during Black Friday in the UK are:
- Amazon Black Friday deals
- Currys PC World Black Friday deals
- Argos Black Friday deals
- John Lewis Black Friday deals
- eBay Black Friday deals
- Asda Black Friday deals
Our US readers should keep a close eye on the following outlets:
6) Black Friday shopping tips – get Amazon Prime for free
While we’re obviously excited to see what the likes of Currys, John Lewis and Argos are getting ready to price slash, you could quite happily do all your Black Friday shopping on Amazon without missing out.
Amazon gives its Prime subscribers a helpful head-start on many of its deals and often deliver exclusive prices for Prime members. Prime subscribers also enjoy a host of other benefits, including Prime Music and Prime Video, unlimited one-day deliveries, and more. If it’s within your budget, it’s well worth trying out, and you can get a free 30-day trial to see if it’s for you.
You can sign up for a free 30-day Amazon Prime trial here. If you don’t need Prime right now, it’s worth waiting until November to sign up for a trial so it coincides with Black Friday.
7) Black Friday shopping tips – use price-tracking tools
Not all Black Friday deals are created equal, and for every genuinely great bargain out there, there’s a right ol’ lemon hoping to mug you of your hard-earned cash.
Fortunately, it’s easy to safeguard yourself – and your wallet – against such ploys.
You’ll want to have a good price-tracking tool in your Black Friday arsenal, and our favourite right now is the Chrome extension Keepa. This embeds a historical graph into each and every Amazon product page, letting you see what price it’s been selling at in the past.
This way, you can see if you’re getting a genuine bargain. You’ll instantly be able to see if it’s the lowest price it’s ever been sold or if it’s been a long time since it’s last discount. Also useful is seeing if the price was recently hiked up in order to give you a misleading discount. It also shows you the price history across Amazon Warehouse and third-party sellers, too.
If you’re not a Chrome user, there is also CamelCamelCamel. Drop any Amazon link in its search box and you’ll see the highest, lowest, and average price of whatever product you’re interested in, giving you a proper bird’s-eye view of the ‘deal’ you’re looking at.
No, it won’t win any design awards, but between the basic search functionality and all the useful add-ons you can utilise – from Twitter alerts to Amazon List synchronisation and browser extensions – CamelCamelCamel is nigh on indispensable.
8) Black Friday shopping tips – download all the apps you can find
With deals coming and going in the blink of an eye, you need to be ready to jump on the best bargains as soon as they land. That means arming your mobile devices with the right apps ahead of Black Friday.
Pretty much all major UK retailers (and their US counterparts) offer dedicated apps for Android and iOS, so stockpile your home screen with all your favourite stores. We’d recommend Amazon, John Lewis, Currys and Argos as a bare minimum. Many of these will give you push notifications to let you know when sales begin or products you’re interested in are discounted.
9) Black Friday shopping tips – get the espresso machine ready
Black Friday deals literally run around the clock, so the truly committed to bargain hunting are rewarded with the big savings. This might mean burning the midnight oil in the name of a discount, as there will be some great deals late into the evening, if not straight through to the early hours.
Amazon in particular is fond of scheduling some big deal drops for the early hours, so you’ll want to break out the espresso shots if you want to avoid disappointment. Some deals will appear out of nowhere with no warning, so you don’t want to get caught unawares.
Argos as already said that the quietest time to shop is 3am to 4am on Black Friday, so if you’re looking for the most stress-free time to not be fighting to get on the Argos site, that might be your best bet.
We’ll have a team monitoring deals into the most ungodly of hours so you can always keep your sights locked to Trusted Reviews if you want to stay on top of the best Black Friday deals.
Related: Best coffee machines
10) Black Friday shopping tips – check the returns policy and warranty
If you’re slightly undecided about whether or not you want something in the Black Friday sales – but simply can’t resist a bargain – be sure to check the returns policy. Provided the returns policy allows a hassle-free return, you can always decide later on.
Factor in whether or not you need to cover the cost of shipping a product back to the retailer, however, otherwise your indecisiveness can leave you out of pocket.
Also, don’t forget about the warranty on any prospective purchases. You’ll typically get a year as standard, but retailers like John Lewis often give you an extended warranty. On a big ticket purchase like a TV this can really add a lot of value.
Many of John Lewis’ TV deals have a five-year warranty, which gives you a lot of peace of mind. This is on top of price-matching its rivals, so in this case opting for John Lewis is a no-brainer for the extra customer service.
11) Black Friday shopping tips – save yourself some of the hassle
We’ve survived more Black Fridays than most here at Trusted Reviews, so we know our way around the hysteria. With Black Friday 2018 headed our way again, we really do think we can help you find the very best deals without all the hassle.
You won’t find any long, indiscriminately compiled link dumps here – just stuff we rate and would buy ourselves. All the deals we feature are carefully vetted by our expert editors for the quality of the product and the bargain nature of the deal.
If you want to cut-out a fair bit of legwork when deal-hunting, check back regularly for all the latest and greatest savings.
Share your Black Friday shopping tips and tricks with us on social media @TrustedReviews.