The countdown to Black Friday has begun, and South Africans are getting ready to rush to the shops. For many shoppers scanning the ‘bargains’, the excitement is about doing festive season shopping and scooping up luxury items at rock-bottom prices. But, asks Old Mutual, is Black Friday really what it’s cracked up to be?
What should be top of mind when it comes to sales like Black Friday is that they are marketing events. Before rushing off with hard-earned cash in hand, it, therefore, pays to do a little research, says John Manyike, Head of Financial Education at Old Mutual.
“Part of your research should be on deciding what you want to buy, making sure that you are aware of current prices and then checking out what discounts are available. Also, limit the number of items you want to purchase. One of the worst things to do is to be unclear about what you want. The result could be becoming involved in a buying frenzy and spending more money than you wanted on items you didn’t need.”
Consumers should also be aware that:
- Many stores will have special prices on some items only. They realise that these sell out quickly and that consumers, believing that everything will be cheaper, buy items at the everyday ruling prices.
- Some merchants use Black Friday to clear stock to make way for upgraded items on sale in January. It could be worth waiting for January if you want the latest and best.
- Black Friday sales have become events that now exceed the traditional 24-hour event. This means that items not sold will probably get cheaper as the festive season approaches. Delaying buying until the last few days before the holidays could result in better bargains.
- Remember that most stores also have January sales to sell off the previous year’s stock.
“It is unfortunate that when consumers get active, scammers emerge. The scammers can vary from those using shopping fever to increase the prices of some goods in stores to online scams where money is paid in advance for goods that are never received,” says Manyike.
“When buying online, stick to the names you know and sites you have dealt with. It is better to place an order with reputable, established international and local sites than take a chance because the price appears right.”
When thinking about Black Friday, Manyike advises:
- Creating a budget and sticking to it.
- Use websites and apps to check prices before Black Friday and compare them with what is offered on the day.
- If you want to buy a few items, see if the merchant is offering the same price online. As an incentive, online prices will often drop at midnight on Thursday to encourage early-bird buyers. So, check these offerings before rushing to the mall.
- Check what you are buying. Low prices may be for brands, especially electronic goods, that you may not know.
“For occasions like Black Friday, the main question to ask is if you are buying the item because you want it or because you need it.
“Set your budget and put the things you need at the top of your list. If there is still room left in the budget after this, then look at buying the luxuries,” advises Manyike. “If you are well prepared, then go ahead and enjoy your shopping and bargain-hunting. Always remember to ensure that it actually is a bargain to purchase certain items”
Advice with thanks to Old Mutual