Black Friday. The yearly sale that was virtually unheard of on these shores 10 years ago, but now brings a sense of excitement and anticipation amongst a population who are desperate to get as many deals as possible ahead of Christmas.

Originally an American tradition, the unofficial inaugural event dates to 1950s Philadelphia, where suburban dwellers flocked to the big city in the days after Thanksgiving to witness the Army v Navy College football game in the city.

Without wanting to waste a visit to the city, those who lived on the outskirts also used the trip to stock up on supplies, clothes, and gifts ahead of Christmas.

Over time, the sales and discounts spread across the nation, and, eventually, over the globe, reaching Britain in 2010, when Amazon first introduced the concept.

In that short time, it has rocketed in popularity. Research by Statista, the German company that specialises in market and consumer data, shows that spending over Black Friday weekend this year is expected to total GBP9.42bn in the UK.

If achieved, that figure would be higher than any of the previous five years, indicating that consumers now more than ever are after bargains, given the last 18 months that everyone has had to endure.

However, are the deals too good to be true? And is there a better way to spend your money?

The answer to both those questions might be yes.

Research by Which? into some of last years popular Black Friday deals in the UK found that the sales were often underwhelming, with ‘sale’ being a strong word.

Advertised by retailers as a once in a lifetime opportunity to get the latest gadgets for slashed prices, the study found that companies like Amazon, Currys, and John Lewis very rarely offered any sort of discount, with consumers likely to get better prices earlier in the year.

Out of the 201 items that were tracked vigorously over a six-month period before and after Black Friday, 184 of the products were the same price or cheaper at different times in the year.

Indeed, only one item was at its cheapest on the over-hyped sale day, representing only 0.5% of the total ‘deals’ actually being worth the investment.

One of the more ludicrous discounts was the Zanussi washing machine at John Lewis, that was cheaper than its Black Friday price on 88 different days before the sale day, according to Which?

‘Reduced’ to GBP309 on Black Friday, customers could have bought it GBP60 cheaper at GBP249 five months before and for GBP289 within just a month after.

The reason why companies can seemingly get away with these types of deal is that customers don’t conduct any thorough investigation into what they’re buying.

Some 39% of those buying baby and child products last year did little or no research on price, while for home appliances this was the case for 28% and for tech products it was 18%, according to Which?

Not only could you get better deals at different times of the year, if you didn’t spend any money at all, but rather invested, you could be richer.

A study by Hargreaves Lansdown, the financial services company, found that if the public decided not to participate in the ‘sales’ but put their money in stocks and shares, they could have in some cases doubled or even tripled their money.

Of course, hindsight is always 20:20 but investing will nearly always provide a better return than buying a material item which depreciates in value the second it touches your hand.

But with the day fast approaching, and total sales expected to be higher than ever, consumers up and down the country might pause for breath before racing to the high-streets and online.

In this case, slow and steady wins the race, and hanging on a couple of months could be the real money saving strategy.

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