Shoppers are being warned to be wary of Black Friday deals after a study suggested that many products offered at a discounted rate prior to Christmas were actually available for a lot less at other times of the year.

The study, conducted by consumer group Which? took a look at 35 of the most popular technology and personal care products, reporting that more than half of the Black Friday deals in 2016 were either cheaper, or the same price, at other times of the year.

Even without the traditional celebration of Thanksgiving, which is the origin of the retail extravaganza, Black Friday is expected to be one of the busiest shopping days in the UK. Around £2.6 billion, or £1.8 million every minute, is expected to be spent by consumers in the UK on the 24th November, as shoppers flock to both the shops and their keyboards for some retail therapy.

It is a day notorious for shoppers working themselves up into a frenzy, with many assuming that big sales must mean big savings. At a time when many are spending significantly more than usual, it is not surprising that bargain hunters are particularly alert at this time of year, in the hope of finding some great deals in the run-up to the festive season.

Deals are expected to be even less competitive this year compared to 2016, particularly for electrical goods, due to the impact of a weaker pound and higher business rates increasing retailers costs and pushing profits down. A weak pound means that the cost of importing materials for production have increased, while profits from exports have been significantly impacted. With the uncertainty of Brexit ahead, retailers may be unwilling to cut prices, particularly as this same uncertainty may convince many shoppers to put off large purchases until their confidence in the economy has recovered.

The Managing Director of Home Products and Services at Which?, Alex Neill, has said: “our research shows that although Black Friday can offer some great discounts, not all offers are as good as they seem.”

He further commented: “It’s easy to get swept along by the hype and excitement on the day, so we recommend doing some preparation and research to help make sure you really are getting a good deal when shopping in the sales.”

Consumers have been advised to check the regular prices of the products they’re considering buying, rather than assuming they are getting the great deal they believe they are, and to use retailers which offer part-refunds if prices drop in the weeks following a purchase. Black Friday can still be a great time to enjoy some significant deals, but consumers must be alert to sort the deals from the disappointments.

XMas_014 by KSRE Photo licensed under Creative commons 4