Black Friday 2017: everything you need to know about the year's biggest shopping day

Everything you need to know about Black Friday

On Black Friday weekend last year, adults in the UK spent an average of £117 each. That's a total spend of £6.45 billion – enough to buy every British man, woman and child a Fire TV Stick, a pair of glasses that make your eyes think you're on magic mushrooms and 16 of those awesome twangy things that also act as door stops.

Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, every year, and this year it falls on November 24. The deals will start will before then though – expect crazy offers at all of the big retailers like Argos, Amazon, John Lewis, Tesco Direct and Mobiles.co.uk from the beginning of November and probably even before that.

It’s ironic that Black Friday drives so much traffic to websites like TechRadar, because the term used to refer to more traditional types of traffic – the name was first used by US police to describe the traffic gridlock that occured when everybody hit the shops at the same time.

Black Friday still happens on the high street, but increasingly the best deals – and the most shoppers – are online. And that's why every year TechRadar rounds up all of the best deals – so you can find the best-value offers on the nicest stuff and be confident you're getting the best price.

When is Black Friday and what is it exactly?

Black Friday is always the Friday that immediately follows the Thanksgiving holiday in the US – so Black Friday 2017 will take place on November 24.

Black Friday – and increasingly by the year, Black November – is the starting gun for the Christmas shopping season, and it’s famous for what retailers call 'doorbusters' – deals so good that shoppers will try and break down the front doors of stores to get at them.

Inevitably that means it’s also slightly infamous, with each year delivering a new selection of YouTube delights depicting keen shoppers slugging it out for the right to claim a limited number of probably-awful but super cheap 4K TVs.

Things got so bad on Black Friday 2014 that ASDA, Wal-Mart’s UK brand and the firm largely responsible for bringing Black Friday to the UK made the decision to not 'do' Black Friday at all. That proved to be an expensive decision.

By comparison, in 2014 John Lewis UK reported that its Black Friday sales were the highest weekly sales in the company’s 150-year history. Check out our best John Lewis Black Friday deals 2017 hub for more information.

So this November, expect all the main retailers like Amazon, Argos, John Lewis, Currys and ASOS to be running deals across every range of products. Black Friday is traditionally the home of deals on electricals, clothing and shoes - but you can also expect hot promotions on everything else from mobile phone contracts to VPN services and broadband subscriptions.

Black Friday @ the UK's biggest retailers:

Argos.co.uk:

Argos loves Black Friday - and it's really good at it too. Argos was one of the very first retailers to see Black Friday for what it really is - an amazing opportunity to shift large quantities of electricals from games consoles to coffee machines and tumble dryers. Consequently, you can expect Argos in 2017 to go at it hard, with Black Friday deals running all the way through November. The deals at Argos tend to get stronger as the month goes on, so it's worth keeping your powder dry in the first few weeks. That being said, last year Argos did promise that if it reduced the price of any deals before the end of November, they'd refund you the difference. See our Argos Black Friday article

Amazon.co.uk:

Amazon is arguably the one site responsible for creating Black Friday as an online shopping phenomenon. It always takes a highly innovative approach to Black Friday as both a retailer and a market place. Expect Amazon to run Black Friday deals across every conceivable product category. Many people consider it to be the benchmark for online prices - it's always worth checking Amazon before buying things online. There's a good chance you'll find a cheaper price. See our Amazon Black Friday article

John Lewis:

John Lewis has never seemed too keen on Black Friday. The highstreet and online department store has always refrained from using any kind of "Black Friday!" signage and messaging, preferring instead to use more on-brand words such as "Sale" and "Clearance". If Argos is the best retailer for going all-out on Black Friday, John Lewis is the best for keeping it all a bit more reserved. Expect to see a precision-based approach from this site - plenty of strong deals on popular items it things it can shift in bulk like Surface Pro 2-in-1 laptops, iPads, Motorola smartphones and 4K TVs. As always, John Lewis' excellent 'never knowingly undersold' scheme will also be in play, so if you spot a cheaper price at any of its highstreet + online competitors like Currys, John Lewis will match it. See our John Lewis Black Friday article

Currys.co.uk

Currys.co.uk is another highstreet + online brand that doesn't tend to talk about Black Friday too much. It's part of the Dixons Carphone group, which also includes brands like PC World, Carphone Warehouse, Mobiles.co.uk and iD Mobile. Most Dixons Carphone brands talk about 'Black Tag' deals - "it's not Black Friday, it's a Black Tag event!" Nevertheless, Currys will be a consistent and reliable source of strong deals throughout November (and we noticed it did experiment with some Black Friday branding last year). The buying power of Currys means it's often able to undercut its rivals and offer exclusive products to its customers. Expect loads of tempting deals throughout November and particularly in the week before Black Friday, starting Saturday November 18 - and then a huge explosion of mega deals on Black Friday itself. See our Currys Black Friday article

Mobiles.co.uk

Mobiles.co.uk is the place to be if you're planning on upgrading your phone between now and the end of the year. You'll find that all of the best deals of the year will all be found within the month of November, with strong offers becoming more frequent from as early as the beginning of October. Expect absolute pandemonium in the mobile deals market throughout the whole period as the voucher code machine goes into hyperdrive, with cheapest ever deals on popular phones like the iPhone 8, Samsung Galaxy S8 and probably even the iPhone X. Because Mobiles.co.uk is part of the Dixons Carphone group, it's able to utilise its buying power and economies of scale to offer prices that its rivals simply can't match.

Game.co.uk

Game.co.uk usually launches all its mega Black Friday deals on consoles and games on the Thursday evening. The last couple of years, the deals have gone live at 8pm but we wouldn't be surprised if it happens even earlier this time. The site tends to struggle under the load as soon as it puts its offers live - many of the very best offers have limited stock allocations and so you need to be quick if you're going to get a dream bundle deal. Expect great prices across the spectrum, from console games, consoles, bundles to PlayStation Network and Xbox Live subs and GTA V shark cards.

Tesco direct

Tesco direct has developed a reputation as being the source of many of the very best deals on Black Friday each year. The buying power it has developed with its highstreet stores puts it in a very strong position to offer cheapest ever prices on games consoles and 4K TVs. It might not be the first retailer that springs into your mind when you think about online retail, but it's a big name and it's getting bigger. Tesco direct was the first site to sell the Sony PS4 for £149.99 last year so you can be sure it'll be going hard at it again this year. See our Tesco Black Friday article

Black Friday deals 2017

So which product categories are hot on Black Friday? Here are the best deals that Argos, Amazon and the rest will be running this year:

Mobile phone Black Friday deals - Black Friday is the perfect time of year to buy a new phone, particularly if you're going to get it on contract. All of the best prices on the best phones appear in November, with the best deals of all going live on Black Friday itself. It's also a great day to pick up SIM only deals. Keep your eyes on Mobiles.co.uk, Mobile Phones Direct and Carphone Warehouse!

Gaming Black Friday deals - If you're after a super cheap deal on a PS4 or Xbox One then Black Friday is definitely the day to buy. Last year we saw consoles going for £150 so this year you can be sure we'll see prices even lower than that. Keep your eyes on Game, Argos, Amazon and Tesco direct!

4K TV Black Friday deals - Christmas has always been the most popular time of year to buy a new TV, so it makes sense that 4K TVs now sell by the hundred thousand when it comes to Black Friday. This year you'll find discounts across the spectrum - so you'll be able to pick up ridiculously cheap TVs from small brands as well as get substantial discounts on better TVs from more prominent brands. Keep your eyes on Currys, Argos, Amazon, AO.com and John Lewis.

Tablet Black Friday deals - iPads and Android tablets are always up there when it comes to the most popular items on Black Friday. They're superb Christmas presents and we rarely see prices as low as the ones at the end of November. Prepare for middling iPads and cheapo Android tablets from Samsung to be on sale all over the place. Keep your eyes peeled at John Lewis, Currys, Argos and Amazon.

Toy Black Friday deals - Deals on Toys are legion on Black Friday. Toys are always popular at this time of year for obvious reasons so retailers are always a bit reluctant to discount the most popular items. But the profit margins on toys are actually very good and so there's always room for discounting. Whether you want to buy LEGO or a trampoline this year, you'll definitely find a great deal! Watch out for great deals at Amazon, Argos, Toys R Us, Smyths Toys and Tesco direct.

Clothes and shoes Black Friday deals - Electronics like TVs and phones are the main order of the day on Black Friday. But clothes and shoes are also popular items and there's always a whole batch of awesome deals to be had. Watch out for deals at Amazon, ASOS, John Lewis, Office.co.uk and Schuh.

The impact of Black Friday in the UK

Black Friday has transformed the Christmas shopping season, for better and for worse.

James Miller, senior retail consultant at Experian Marketing Services, told the BBC that “there is little doubt Black Friday has dramatically changed the way people shop in the run-up to Christmas and has created an expectation of deep discounts that arguably did not exist before,” while a report by LCP Consulting found that nearly one-third of UK and US retailers believe that Black Friday is “unprofitable and unsustainable."

Before Black Friday became a big deal, the run-up to Christmas was a great period for retailers: we’d buy loads of presents for others and for ourselves, and retailers would make huge piles of money. Then Black Friday happened, and all of a sudden many of us were browsing the bargains for the presents to put in Santa’s sack. Money spent on deeply discounted products in November is money that won’t be spent on more profitable products in December.

According to research by Verdict Retail, there is “no evidence” that Black Friday “stimulated demand”: Black Friday is essentially a black hole that sucks in a big part of people’s pre-Christmas shopping. We buy more but pay less for it.

According to Mike Watkins of Nielsen UK, “Whilst Nielsen analysis shows that Black Friday in November 2014 did not deliver incremental food sales it did serve to kick start what was the slowest start to Christmas trading in over 10 years. Perhaps that’s the primary objective in these changing times.”

Gary Booker, CMO at Dixons Retail, told Marketing Week that Black Friday negatively affects purchases in the following weeks: “It takes sales out of what would have been key early weeks in December,” he said, and multiple reports show that since Black Friday has taken off in the UK we’re spending less money on Boxing Day, our previous favourite for bargain hunting.

That means retailers need to think very carefully about Black Friday: they can discount in the hope they’ll make up for the lower margins with higher volumes, or they can decide not to take part in Black Friday and potentially lose sales to rivals who do.

Predicting the best Black Friday deals of 2017:

iPhone 8 Black Friday deals
We know that Apple’s 2017 iPhone 8 is likely to be dramatically different from the current model, we can reasonably expect it to go on sale in September or October at the latest, and we know that iPhone 8 Black Friday deals will be very popular - so this one’s a slam-dunk. Expect similar discounts to 2016 chopping £100-plus off the up-front price, and Apple to offer gift cards across the range. We’d expect some decent deals on iPads too as Apple refreshes the line-up this year.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Black Friday deals
Black Friday last year saw really good deals on the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, with the Black Friday voucher code BLACKFRI2 wiping out the upfront cost altogether on a £29.99 per month contract. That was a fantastic deal, and we’re expecting to see similarly great Galaxy deals on the Samsung Galaxy S8 in 2017.

PS4 Pro Black Friday deals
Black Friday 2016 was all about the PS4 Slim, and Black Friday 2017 will be all about the PS4 Pro. As with 2016 we’d expect the very best deals to be on bundles, with some of them costing only a little more than the PS4 Pro itself, so start working on your game wish list: a bundle’s only a good deal if it includes the games you actually want to play. Up to now, the PS4 Pro is holding its RRP but you can expect that to change later this year, particularly when Microsoft has launched the Xbox One X...

Xbox One X Black Friday deals
Microsoft’s got a pro console too, and unless something goes wrong with the release schedule it will be on sale on November 7 - right in time for Black Friday 2017. As with the Xbox One in 2016 we’d expect to see the very best deals on bundles, rather than on the console itself: there’s more wiggle room for the retailer there, so they can afford to be more daring with the discounts.

4K HDR OLED TV Black Friday deals
Black Friday 2016 was positively packed with TV deals, including nearly half-price deals on selected OLED TVs. High-end sets are where the really expensive RRPs are, and the ever-advancing world of telly tech means those prices can only be sustained for a fairly short time. If you’re in the market for the kind of TV whose price tag wouldn’t look out of place on a car, Black Friday 2017 could be a very good day for you indeed.

The deals on Black Friday 2017 won't be so crazy

Black Friday 2014 was particularly silly in the UK: while grown men and women knocked each other over to try and get cheap Polaroid TVs in supermarkets, men and women knocked over loads of websites too. Many retailers weren’t prepared for the volume of online traffic and their servers couldn’t cope.

Other firms that hadn’t thought Black Friday was a particularly big deal tried to get in on the action. The result felt rather like some firms were running around with a pricing gun, discounting whatever they spotted.

Black Friday 2015 was very different. Websites coped just fine - although some raised eyebrows with “oh! We’re so busy you’ll have to queue!” warnings that seemed more about marketing than reflecting actual demand - and retailers had a strategy in place. Where previous Black Fridays were crazy, Black Friday 2015 was calm. The difference? Planning.

Retailers knew what to expect, had struck deals with suppliers well in advance and approached Black Friday like any other shopping event. There were still bargains to be had, but it certainly didn’t feel like bargain-conscious customers were getting one over on panicking retailers.

Black Friday 2016 was different again: for many big-name retailers, instead of everything happening on one day, their sales were spread over an entire week from the Monday before Black Friday to Cyber Monday, the Monday immediately after. Cyber Monday used to be a separate event, the day everybody panicked and thought “oh no! It’s nearly Christmas and I haven’t bought any presents!” before visiting Amazon on their work PCs. But in 2016 it was just another part of Black Friday Deals Week.

As Experian’s Richard Jenkings told the BBC, “The Black Friday promotions at the end of November are the start of a longer, more drawn-out peak season, which begins with most of the activity online and then moves in-store as we get closer and closer to Christmas day.”

The best Black Friday deals last year:

Every year, we load up with pizza and energy drinks to scour the entire internet for the best deals. These were some of our favourite deals from Black Friday last time out:

1. £125 off the iPhone 7
Apple’s iPhone 7 may have been new but that didn’t mean you couldn’t get a Black Friday deal. With the code BLACKNOV125 you could get £125 off the up-front cost of an iPhone 7 - and no, the contract wasn’t more expensive to compensate.

2. £130 off the PS4
The PlayStation 4 is a brilliant console, and last Black Friday it was a brilliant bargain too: there was £130 off the 1TB model and bundles costing as little as £189. Very chopped 34% off the price of some of its PS4 bundles and Amazon cut 20%.

3. £40 off the iPad Air
There were lots of iPad bargains on Black Friday 2016 including £40 off the iPad Air, £30 off iPad Pros and up to £50 off iPad Minis. Apple wasn’t offering those discounts, but it did bundle gift cards with various products.

4. £900 off an LG OLED TV
How’s this for a discount: Black Friday meant a massive £900 off the LG OLED55B6V TV, bringing its price down to a much less frightening £1,899. There was also £550 off Sony 4K TVs and up to £300 off Panasonic TVs.

5. Huge savings on Xbox One bundles
The 4K Xbox One S was just £199 with Minecraft and Forza Horizon thrown in, and prices were slashed all over the place for every conceivable combination of console, controllers and games. There were good deals to be had on accessories too.

What to expect from Black Friday 2017:

The last few Black Friday deals periods saw many retailers taking baby steps, but in 2017 they’re all grown up. That means they’ve been poring over their spreadsheet models since the last Black Friday, and they know exactly what they’ll be doing this year. And the first thing they’ll be doing is trying to beat Black Friday by starting their deals early. What started as Black Friday weekend became Black Friday week, and this year we expect some big-name retailers to start discounting long before that.

Early discounting makes sense for many reasons: it spreads the load on their websites and shops, and more importantly it means the news of their deals won’t be buried amid the avalanche of Black Friday announcements. So keep your eyes peeled - and keep visiting our deals homepage - from early November, and maybe even earlier than that.

Something we saw a lot of in 2016 and expect to see even more of in 2017 is a sliding scale of discounting: we noticed deals got bigger and better as the month progressed. That’s likely to recur in 2017, with reasonable deals at the beginning of the Black Friday period and more exciting but limited quantity deals on Black Friday itself. The emphasis will be on the more expensive products where retailers can cut prices but still make a decent profit.

Black Friday 2017 FAQ: what it is, when it happens and where to get the best deals

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is the Friday immediately after Thanksgiving. It’s a day when retailers offer big discounts to kick-start the holiday shopping season so it's a great time to buy phones, consoles, shoes and clothes.

When is Black Friday 2017?

Black Friday 2017 will be on Friday, 24 November.

When is Cyber Monday 2017?

Cyber Monday 2017 will be on Monday, 27 November. It's another day of deals - specifically online - though it's bigger in America.

What is Black Friday deals week?

It’s the week that includes Black Friday. Retailers are increasingly offering deals before and after Black Friday itself so they stand out from the crowd.  

Are Black Friday deals real?

Yes, although in some cases the discounts have been negotiated well in advance with suppliers. As with any sales you’ll see a mix of genuine bargains, discounted end-of-line stock and mysterious things found in the back of a warehouse somewhere. In 2016, consumer magazine Which? accused retailers of some pretty dodgy behaviour. 

Where can I find the best Black Friday deals?

Right here on TechRadar of course! We scour all the top retailers’ Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals so that you don’t have to - and we tell you whether the deals are worth getting excited about too. Whether it’s a 4K HDR OLED TV or an Xbox One controller, if it’s discounted we’ll have the details here. 

How do I get the best Black Friday 2017 deals?

Know what you want, know what you can afford to spend and know the market: you’ll often spot retailers charging higher than usual prices in October so they can offer amazing discounts on Black Friday. Pay particular attention to real prices, not RRPs: TVs are particularly bad for this, with sets whose RRP is eleventy billion pounds routinely selling for five hundred quid. Sites such as CamelCamelCamel and PriceSpy enable you to tell if you’re looking at a legitimate bargain or some timed tomfoolery.

It’s also a very good idea to be flexible: for example, if you fancy a Sony 4K TV then think about the features you want rather than a specific model number: the BRV123ABD54-88C-9218-B may not be discounted on Black Friday, but an almost identical set with the specification you want probably will be.

Can I get cashback on Black Friday deals?

Sometimes, yes. Your debit card or credit card may offer cashback on purchases, and sites such as Quidco often offer cashback for new customers of big-name online shops. It’s definitely worth looking into, not just for Black Friday but for any online shopping. 

Am I protected when I buy on Black Friday?

Yes. In the UK, anything you buy from a company online is covered by a wealth of consumer protection legislation including the Consumer Contracts regulations, which give you the same rights as with any other online purchasing. 

How can I stay safe on Black Friday?

Black Friday brings out the scammers as well as the sellers, so be wary of unsolicited emails or links to deals on social media no matter how legitimate they look: anything asking for card details or login details is a scam. Phishing sites do big business on Black Friday, so be extra suspicious - and if you’re on a PC, make sure your security software is up to date. Many suites automatically block known scam sites.