You know that Christmas can’t be too far away when you start seeing adverts and signs for Black Friday. Originating in the US, the last Friday in November has become known as ‘Black Friday’ due to its position as the first Friday after the US holiday of Thanksgiving, and the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping period. It is the day when many retailers unveil their festive offers and shoppers across the country start ticking off items on their Christmas present list in earnest.

Black Friday takes place this year on Friday 29 November and is closely followed by Cyber Monday on 2 December. Cyber Monday is, as you might imagine, the day when online retail activity rises sharply to mirror high-street activity, with many online deals appearing with the aim of making us part with our cash as we head inexorably towards to Christmas. So, how can consumers make the most of these two days of retail delight? Here are some top tips from the savvy TIBO team.

Plan ahead

It is always a good idea to have an idea, however vague, of the types of items you are hoping to buy on Black Friday. So, make sure you have the relevant conversations in good time – ask your friends and family members for ideas, preferred brands, clothing and jewellery sizes, chosen styles and coveted electronics. Work out a rough budget for each item you need and where you might want to start looking. Sign up for your targeted retailers’ newsletters and follow their social media accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as they often announce deals on there with exclusive codes that could save you even more money.

Watch out for price matching

Don’t limit your research to specific Black Friday communications. Many stores will have a policy of price-matching – most notably John Lewis, whose famous promise to be ‘never knowingly undersold’ could well help you unearth a few more bargains if you find a favourable deal elsewhere (conditions apply, check the John Lewis website for details). Don’t be afraid to haggle if you do find something that you feel could be bought cheaper elsewhere. Stores will be keen to make sales at this lucrative time of year and some may be open to negotiation. Make sure you have read up on your chosen stores’ returns policy as you may change your mind later on and find that price matching may not work in your favour when it comes to asking for a refund.

Online in advance

The increased online traffic that Black Friday normally causes can slow more popular websites to a crawl, as crowds of Christmas shoppers clamour to grab a bargain. Save time on the day by registering with your favourite sites in advance and know what the passwords to any already registered sites are. Make sure you sign in to

your accounts in advance too, so that you can make purchases with minimal effort and admin on the day. Some bargains will sell out very quickly, so speed may well be the key to success. Don’t forget to fact-check any deals that suddenly flash up that you weren’t expecting. They can often be too good to be true, especially if they are from an unknown brand that you have not bought anything from before.

Is it really a bargain?

This is a universally useful tip for people looking for ways to spend less and save more of their money. Don’t let yourself be swayed by exciting deals, celebrity endorsements and cleverly crafted advertising slogans. If you don’t need a product, then spending money on it, only to have it sit there and do nothing is a waste of time and funds. Even if you do need the item, if it doesn’t come with all the right functions, or in the wrong colour or size, it will be just as useless. Take time in advance to work out exactly what you need and which products are best for you and the proposed recipient(s) of your festive largess. Check out performance reviews online from trustworthy sources, such as Which? Or the Good Housekeeping Institute. Browse your selected websites and really read the technical specifications on the product pages to make sure you have chosen wisely. This is especially important for electrical gadgets and goods, such as speakers and stereos.

Start early

We all know the saying about the early bird catching the worm. It’s no less true on Black Friday. It really is worth setting the alarm clock and getting started in plenty of time to ensure maximum choice. Shoppers work quickly to snap up the bargains, so make sure you are amongst the first tranches to get the widest selection. Online sales often go live at the stroke of midnight, so charge up your laptop, grab a cuppa and have your finger hovering over the button to ensure success. Physical shops may well open a bit later in the day, but you need to work out when the doors open, how you are going to get there and how you are going to carry your treasures home again. Many stores offer delivery but do check which ones before committing to too many heavy or bulky purchases.

Have fun Christmas shopping this Black Friday!