Black Friday has become a much-anticipated event in the US, the UK and around the world, offering shoppers an opportunity to bag a bargain. But when is Black Friday, and what exactly is it? You might even be wondering: Are Black Friday deals worth it? Whether you’re on the hunt for Christmas gifts or have had your eye on a piece of outdoor gear beyond your budget for sometime, here’s everything you need to know about the global shopping extravaganza and how to bag the best Black Friday offers.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is an annual shopping event, originating in the US, that’s gained immense popularity worldwide. It’s considered the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, with retailers offering significant discounts and promotions both online and in-store.

The term ‘Black Friday’ is believed to have originated in Philadelphia in the 1960s, signifying the day when retailers would go “into the black” or start making a profit. However, it didn’t really catch on across the US in the ‘80s and ‘90s when powerful big-box retailers like Target, Walmart and BestBuy became the go-to for shopping and were able to offer impressive discounts on big-ticket items.

Back then, crowds of bargain-hungry shoppers would flock to stores to cash in on the reduced prices of products, which could range from electronics and clothing to appliances and holiday gifts. They’d line up outside shops hours before opening time just to score the best deals and it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see people bashing down storefronts to get inside, and wrestling with fellow shoppers over TV sets.

While a lot of the sales now take place online, it’s still very much one of the busiest and most anticipated shopping days of the year, with many retailers taking part.

When is Black Friday?

Black Friday traditionally takes place every year on the day after Thanksgiving in the US. It’s like the American version of the Boxing Day sales in the UK.

Black Friday normally falls on the fourth Friday in November and since this is typically most people’s last pay cheque before the Christmas holidays, it’s become known as the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season.

black friday scams

Credit: Tima Miroshnichenko

How to bag the best Black Friday offers

It might be easy to dismiss some of the sales you spot during Black Friday as underwhelming, with reduced sale prices not seeming all that cheaper than usual. This is common, as some retailers will over-egg their RRP prices on price tags or stickers so that the reductions seem more appealing. This is a practice known as “price anchoring”.

However, if you’re well prepared, eagle-eyed and willing to put the effort into finding some bargains, it’s more than possible to save some money on the items on your list.

Here are seven top tips for grabbing a Black Friday bargains

1. Plan ahead

Start by making a list of items you want to purchase. Whether it’s tech gadgets, clothing, home appliances or boring Christmas gifts like socks for your Uncle Bob, knowing what you’re looking for will help you stay focused and avoid splurging unnecessarily on impulse buys.

2. Set a budget

Before you dive into the Black Friday sales, decide how much you’re willing to spend. Sticking to a budget will prevent overspending and eventual buyer’s remorse.

3. Do your research

Look up the products you plan to buy in advance. Read reviews, compare prices and familiarise yourself with the regular retail prices of the items you’re interested in. This way, you’ll recognise a genuine deal when you see one.

Woman in green and a man in blue climbing up a steep stone edge with backpacks on

Brands such as Alpkit will be taking part in Black Friday deals for newsletter subscribers in 2023. Credit: Alpkit

4. Follow your favourite retailers’ socials and newsletters

Many retailers send out exclusive deals and early access offers to their newsletter subscribers or social media followers. Sign up for your favourite stores’ newsletters and follow them on their social platforms. That way you’ll be the first to know about any Black Friday promotions they might be doing.

5. Use price comparison tools

Online price comparison tools and browser extensions can help you find the best prices across various retailers. They provide real-time price comparisons, helping you identify the most cost-effective option. Coupert is a particularly good one.

6. Get up early or stay up late

Black Friday sales often start at midnight or in the early hours of the morning. If you’re serious about scoring the best deals, set your alarm early. Make sure you have the right browser tabs open, ready to be one of the first to shop.

7. Consider Cyber Monday

If you don’t find what you’re looking for on Black Friday, don’t forget about Cyber Monday, which takes place the following Monday. Originally created to encourage consumers to take advantage of the online deals and discounts available after the Thanksgiving weekend, this is essentially just a continuation of the Black Friday sales but with a focus on online shopping. Still, it’s worth having a look to see if your top retailers have made any further markdowns.

Read more: How to avoid Black Friday scams and the outdoor brands turning Black Friday green