As a Brit, Black Friday was a fairly literal foreign concept to me up to a few years ago. The day after Thanksgiving (a holiday we don’t have or celebrate here in the UK), shoppers go mad and spend ridiculous amounts of cash after being thankful for everything they already have. It sounds a little ridiculous in principal, but some of the discounts actually available are just that.
So, what actually is Black Friday? It’s a now international day of deals, steals and huge savings, where shops and companies lower their prices to generate a huge amount of business on the run up to Christmas. It generates a lot of buzz and excitement, but admittedly, it can be a little overwhelming and it’s very easy to find yourself lost in the chaos. We’ve put together a little guide to getting the most out of the event, and to getting the best deals possible.
First, it’s worth mentioning that you may have noticed Black Friday sales on already, or advertised for longer periods of time than the day itself. Whilst some businesses will strictly only offer their deals on the 23rd (Black Friday this year), many others will open the floodgates far earlier. Most notably – as far as geek culture is concerned – is Blizzard. The developers of hit titles such as World Of Warcraft and Overwatch have their own dedicated merchandise web-store, packed with more or less anything you could want. Whilst this has been a thing for a good few years, it’s only this year that they’ve opened up an EU base, with both EU and UK web addresses. Your purchases on these domains will ship from nearer afield, and not incur nasty trans-Atlantic customs charges – which could quite possibly offset any of the savings you’d be making to begin with.
Some naughty retailers offer what seem to be fantastic Black Friday offers, but actually have the same products cheaper at other times. Blizzard don’t often run sales, and when they do, the products on offer are never as plentiful. I’m quite the fan of Overwatch, and managed to make a good few savings (on items I was already planning to buy at full price, eventually) including Mei and Genji Nendoroid figures at half price, and a fantastic D.VA jacket with around a £50 discount on it. The key here is that everything I purchased, I had been previously interested in buying. 75% discounts are great, but you’re not actually saving money if it’s something you weren’t planning to buy already. That’s not to say that you’re not allowed to make the occasional impulse purchase, but I’d argue it is far better to go in with a proper battle plan.
As Black Friday deals can be found both in store, and online, it’s worth having an idea of what shops you want to visit, and when. Over in the states, shoppers go mad and can whip themselves in to so much of a frenzy that they fight in-store, and even trample one another. On the whole, it’s a little less hectic in the UK, so you’re probably fine to be a little more leisurely. Have a think about what you want, and plan out a vague route. It’s far easier to do this in advance than it is to try and work it out on the day when you could be shopping.
I’d hesitate a guess that you have at least a passing interest in video games, and Black Friday can be one of the best times to buy some of the year’s biggest releases. Generally, most of these discounts will be available again after Christmas, but Black Friday tends to be the first time these offers are available. The general rule for AAA games is that you take £20 or so off the standard price. You’re of course going to see some variation in prices between different shops, but expect to pay around £30 a title for anything major from the last few months. Very recent releases do tend to have discounts on them, but never quite as substantial. Still, £5 or £10 off a brand new game is still £5 or £10 off a brand new game. Whilst yes, Game (a UK retailer similar to Gamestop) is certainly worth checking along with HMV, on the whole you’ll find the biggest savings at Argos. Remember that you can click and collect, so don’t be afraid to make use of that to save time.
Collectibles aren’t quite as straightforward however. Most of the big deals are going to be online, but it may still be worth checking your local toy stores – like Smyths, for example. Whilst some of these companies do advertise their offers beforehand, they may add more deals on the day itself. It’s also worth visiting any shops like Forbidden Planet, if you’re able to do so. They don’t always advertise that they’re having a sale, so never be afraid to go in store or call beforehand to ask if they have anything planned. It’s a similar affair with board games too – your local game store may very well be running a sale, even if it’s as of yet unadvertised.
Of course, whilst I’d always recommend supporting your local game store when possible, don’t be afraid to purchase from Amazon or similar if there’s an unbeatable deal. Try to keep in mind that whilst yes, plenty of items will be on sale, not absolutely everything you want will have a discount. Try not to stress out too much, as very few savings are actually worth your sanity. Try to limit your spending too, don’t put yourself in to overdraft by buying stuff you don’t want or need. Even if there’s nothing you really want for yourself, keep your friends in mind too, as this is one of the best times to go about your Christmas shopping. Not all deals are available on Black Friday either, Cyber Monday takes place three days later, and may very well have some online exclusive offers not previously available. With all of that said, I wish you a great Black Friday and the best of luck with finding what you’re after.
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