Red alert for Black Friday sales frenzy that can prove costly

Christmas is coming, but it seems many shoppers have pressed pause on their spending while they wait for big discount events such as Black Friday on 23 November.

It is easy to get carried away in the frenzy as retailers slash their prices. Photograph: John Devlin

The British Retail Consortium and KPMG recently found the “golden quarter” – the all-important final three months of the year for retailers when customers splash out for Christmas – has got off to a fairly flat start so far. The report said consumers’ anticipation that there may be better deals to be had on Black Friday may be a factor, with people waiting until the late November sales to splash out.

It’s easy to get carried away in the frenzy as retailers slash their prices. So if you’re worried about your wallet, here are some handy Black Friday survival tips.

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Be a cynic

If you see something that looks like a bargain, go to the manufacturer’s website and look at the recommended retail price. Bear in mind that items often sell for less than this all year round. Some websites also have price comparisons if you search for particular items.

Have a masterplan

It’s tempting to just browse the Black Friday sales, but that’s a sure-fire way to end up buying stuff you might not need. Think about items you might actually want to buy – either as gifts, replacing items that are nearing the end of their useful lives, or a one-off luxury purchase that you’ve really wanted. Don’t be tempted to deviate.

Only buy what you’ve planned and budgeted for

It doesn’t matter if you’re convinced you can beat the techniques retailers use to get you to cough up your cash. There’s a huge amount of research and planning employed by retailers to get to your impulse buy. Ticking clock timers, glossy images, discounted prices, item offers “expiring” – they’ve thought of it all.

Check your right to return goods

Contrary to what you may be told, you do have rights to return sale items if they turn out to be faulty. If you’re receiving goods in the post which you may be putting aside as Christmas presents, always open the delivery box when you receive it and check the items.

If you’re buying big items check delivery charges

Some firms now offer assembly services for big items too. Be aware that you might get a local handyman to do the job much cheaper.

If you’re buying for Christmas, add any expensive items to your home insurance

Burglars often use the Christmas period as an opportunity to strike as they know households are stocking up on goodies. And while you’re looking after your wallet, be ethical when chucking out items you’re replacing with your new purchases: you’d be amazed what you can recycle these days. Sofas, household appliances and other items will be collected by some charities if they’re in an OK condition.

Don’t be fobbed off by firms if something doesn’t turn out to be as expected – or doesn’t turn up at all

When you enter in to an agreement with a retailer, your contract is with them, so retailers should sort out delivery-related problems. Ask for proof of delivery if you’re being charged for goods that were never received.