The best thing about any sale period is the moment when you find you've bagged yourself a real bargain - and that's what we're here to help you work out. You're probably thinking about starting your Christmas shopping now, and wondering whether it's worth waiting for Black Friday or Cyber Monday this year.
Well, these sales days aren't going to diminish in size any time soon - we're expecting another rise in spending around this point, with Barclaycard, which processes around half of all UK card payments, seeing spending in this period up 8% year on year from 2016 to 2017.
When is Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
Black Friday started in the US, and is the Friday immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday, so this year Black Friday is on November 23, 2018.
Just four days later it's Cyber Monday 2018, so that will fall on Monday November 26 if you're looking to mark your diaries.
So with Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 incoming (in the UK, 91% of UK retailers took part in Black Friday 2017, while the figure was 81% in the US) the question is whether you're going to bag a bargain in the sales this year, where top retailers are seeing millions tapping into their web pages, or whether great deals can be found now.
We've pored through the data to work out whether it's best to get spending now to avoid the rush or to wait it out and find something that represents a true bargain among the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.
How should I prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
Well, our advice would be to pretend that it's the end of this month - because it's going to fall at a pretty inopportune time on November, right before payday.
What we know from Black Friday last year is that if you go into this period with a little bit of savings, setting yourself a budget on key things to buy for this period, then you're more likely to be able to find the right thing for you.
For instance, if you're after a BIG Christmas present, then you'll probably want to think about console bundles - we always get some great Black Friday gaming deals this time of the year, so if you're thinking of buying someone a PS4 or Xbox One X, then you can get some nifty choices (see below for some great advice on nabbing the best deal).
Or you might be thinking about a big screen TV - the thing there is to know which TVs are likely to be discounted (OLED sets are always a pretty good bargain compared to the RRP) and also be aware of what you want. To help, we've rounded up the best advice in our Black Friday TV deals advice - helping you work out HDR from 4K, given many of us haven't bothered looking for a new television for the last seven years.
So here, homework really helps. Some retailers up prices in October so they can offer supposedly amazing discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so don’t be fooled by such shenanigans.
They’re particularly prevalent on expensive consumer electronics such as TVs or laptops with product numbers rather than names, with products worth a few hundred pounds apparently having RRPs that look astronomical. Once again, CamelCamelCamel and PriceSpy can help you detect both shenanigans and tomfoolery.
It’s also a very good idea to be flexible. For example, if you fancy a Samsung UHD TV it’s best to think about the features you want rather than a specific model number – the BRV553ABD34-82C-9218-X may not be discounted on Black Friday 2018, but an almost identical set with the specification you want probably will be.
As James Miller, senior retail consultant at Experian Marketing Services, told the BBC: "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."
That’s good news for us and potentially bad news for retailers, because Black Friday and Cyber Monday don’t magically give us more money to spend. They just change when we spend our money, so perhaps rather than waiting until the week before Christmas to buy our presents we do it on Black Friday and Cyber Monday instead.
So the advice is simple: know who you need to buy for (if you're getting your Christmas shopping done) know the budget for each (and be honest on the maximum) and if you're looking for a big ticket item then be aware of your needs and don't deviate from them, no matter how good the deal looks!
What’s the difference between Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
There's not a huge amount of difference, to be honest. Many deals last from Black Friday all the way through to (and beyond) Cyber Monday too.
Cyber Monday was originally unconnected to Black Friday – the term was coined to mark the date when everybody went "Yikes! It’s nearly Christmas and I haven’t bought any presents!" and ordered tons of things online when they were supposed to be working.
It used to be that Black Friday - mostly in store in the US - was focused on consumer electronics, and Cyber Monday more on clothing and jewellery, but the lines are pretty much fully blurred now.
They're now what might more accurately be described as Black Friday And Cyber Monday And The Week Before And After And A Bit More If You’re Amazon, as the online giant spreads its sales rather widely.
But that’s too long to type, and BFACMATWBAAAABMIYA is a terrible acronym – so let’s stick with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Why do Black Friday and Cyber Monday matter?
For consumers, the Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales frenzy means a whole week or more of what appear to be good deals – and if you’re savvy, and take advantage of TechRadar's Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals monitoring, you really can save a lot of money.
This shopping period has changed the way we shop in the run-up to Christmas, and they’ve had a massive effect on the retail industry, especially online.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are overwhelmingly online phenomena. Many retailers offer Black Friday deals in their physical stores (Cyber Monday, as the name suggests, has always been an online thing), but with a few headline-grabbing exceptions of the fistfight-in-a-supermarket kind it doesn’t significantly increase footfall.
In fact, there’s some evidence that it has the opposite effect, with tumbleweed blowing down high streets as we all shop from our homes, schools or workplaces instead. After all, it's much easier and far less backbreaking, especially if you're after a new large kitchen appliance.
Once we’ve spent that money it’s spent, and if we’ve spent it on Amazon – one of the biggest proponents of Black Friday and Cyber Monday on either side of the Atlantic – then that money is lost to more local retailers.
What sort of deals will we see on Black Friday 2018?
Black Friday has fallen into a rhythm, so some deal predictions are safe bets:
- Amazon will heavily discount its own stuff
- Apple will offer something small, such as gift cards
- TVs are going to get massive discounts
- There will be really big price drops on laptops
- Some accessories will be brilliant value
- You really don’t want to take out a phone contract in the months leading up: networks' Black Friday deals slash the up-front and monthly costs
- Camera buffs will be able to save a small fortune on bodies and compacts
- It’s not just tech stuff – you’ll see big discounts on some power tools and personal care products too
- eBay will run Black Friday deals on new products, not just second-hand items
What sort of deals will we see on Cyber Monday 2018?
Like Black Friday, Cyber Monday deals have also become pretty predictable too. You can expect:
- Fashion retailers such as ASOS to offer site-wide discounts
- Electrical retailers to offer deals on small appliances and white goods
- A continuation of many retailers’ existing Black Friday promotions
The top deals of Black Friday 2017
There were some really good bargains among the best Black Friday deals 2017, including money off the then-rare Nintendo Switch, the cheapest iPhone 7 deal ever, a massive discount on the iPhone X and deep discounting on the Google Pixel 2 and Samsung Galaxy S8.
There was £400 off Lenovo’s convertible Yoga laptop, massive discounts on PS4 and Xbox One bundles, and more than £1,000 off TVs such as LG’s wonderful 55-inch 4K OLED TV, down from a frightening £2,499.99 to a much more reasonable £1,499.
In addition to its usual discounting, Amazon’s own product range always gets deep cuts on Black Friday: it offered really good discounts on Fire tablets, Kindle ereaders and its Echo devices.
The top deals of Cyber Monday 2017
Of course, we tracked the best Cyber Monday deals in 2017 too. We saw the lowest-ever price of the Samsung Galaxy 8 on contract, massive discounting on VPN services, Xbox Ones sold with a bunch of free games and huge discounts on Dysons.
Even the in-demand Nintendo Switch was available with decent discounting, while premium products such as Sonos Play speakers and Microsoft’s Surface Pro got significantly cheaper too.
And Amazon’s deals, including the discounts on its Echo smart speakers, Kindle ereaders and Fire tablets, continued into Cyber Monday and beyond.
What to expect from Black Friday 2018 and Cyber Monday 2018
The 2018 Black Friday and Cyber Monday season is going to be longer than ever before. In 2017 Black Friday went from a weekend to a week and in some cases a month, and you can expect that trend to continue.
It makes sense for lots of reasons: retailers can spread demand over multiple days, reducing the stress on their sites and delivery partners; deals are more likely to stand out if every single rival isn’t offering discounts on the same day; and it can make what’s really just a sale seem much bigger than it actually is.
So don’t be surprised if Black Friday 2018 is also Black Friday Deals Week 2018 for one retailer, Two Black Fridays and a Cyber Monday Outside Ebbing, Missouri 2018 for another and Three Black Fridays And A Baby on Cyber Monday 2018 on the next site you click on - they all want to make a big deal of this time.
What that means in practice is that having a trusted guide is even more important than in previous years. Our Black Friday 2018 and Cyber Monday 2018 deals pages are the places where we’ll separate the genuine bargains from the old-stock shuffle and the ever popular 'Ridiculous RRP so it looks like a big discount' nonsense.
One thing we noticed in 2016 and again in 2017 is that in many cases the available discounts changed as the month progressed. Headline-grabbing stuff aside, the best-value deals tended to appear later in the month on more expensive products, where retailers could still make a profit while knocking a hefty amount off the price.
That’s partly due to upselling and cross-selling opportunities too – many retailers and brands hope that if you buy a Super Expensive Gizmo for a bargain price, you’ll then buy some accessories to go with it.
Top deals to expect on Black Friday 2018 and Cyber Monday 2018
While there's no way to know for sure what Black Friday and Cyber Monday will bring, we can take some educated guesses, and based on those the following are worth looking out for…
New iPad (2018) and iPhone X
Apple kit is so rarely discounted that even a little bit off is a really big deal. As with Black Friday 2016 and Black Friday 2017 we’d expect Apple itself to offer gift cards rather than deals, but you can expect cuts on last year's handsets - the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X.
For those hoping for savings on the latest Apple devices, we're unlikely to see any significant reductions for the new iPhone XS, XS Max and iPhone XR - they have simply not been out for long enough and Apple's kit is some of the best tech when it comes to holding its value.
The new iPad (2018) has been around long enough to attract decent discounting too, so keep your eyes peeled for that – it's a brilliant devices at any price, but particularly worth looking at if you can get any money off.
Samsung Galaxy S9
As with iPhones, so with Galaxies: not just the Samsung Galaxy S9 but the Note range too.
We saw Black Friday deals wiping out the entire up-front cost on contract Samsung handsets, and with the phone having been on sale since early 2018 we’ll be amazed if there aren’t some delicious deals to be had around Black Friday 2018.
PS4 and Xbox One
Tech-wise they’re still brilliant, but in retail terms these consoles are getting long in the tooth. With rumours of a PS5 swirling (and Sony effectively admitting that the PS4 is off to the glue factory soon), and a pretty saturated market, we’d expect to see some great deals on both consoles, especially bundles, where retailers have much more room to manoeuvre.
We’d also expect to see discounting on the PlayStation VR headset, which hasn’t been quite the smash-hit Sony was hoping for. There’s a good range of good VR content now, which wasn’t really the case when it launched, so keep your eyes out for cut-price head helmets.
PSVR’s a much better proposition this year than it was last year, and many of the older VR titles are widely available for pennies now the novelty’s worn off.
That said, do keep your eyes out for PS4 deals in the lead up to Black Friday - if you see a bundle you like the look of, it's worth going for it rather than risking it not getting dropped in the Black Friday / Cyber Monday furore.
4K HD OLED TVs
Black Friday is always brilliant for TV prices, but (as ever) beware hilarious RRPs: the price a manufacturer puts there is very rarely the price anybody pays, so use the likes of PriceSpy and CamelCamelCamel to check a price history.
There will be deals out there, though – OLED tech in particular is still incredibly expensive and improving fast, which means that, much to the chagrin of early adopters, there will be massive discounts on relatively recent sets.
The difference between OLED and even very good LED TVs is really dramatic, and you’re not going to regret the upgrade – especially if you get it at a knock-down price.
That doesn’t mean you should overlook LED TVs, though. The competition in that market is absolutely fierce, and that means sets that cost more than a car last year will be much, much cheaper this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Amazon Echo devices, Fire TV sticks, Kindles and Fire tablets
It wouldn’t be Black Friday or Cyber Monday if Amazon wasn’t slashing the price of its own-brand devices, and last year we saw some superb deals on the Echo speaker range, Fire tablets, Kindles and Fire TV devices.
The full-size Amazon Echo was reduced from £89.99 to £69.99, while the Echo Dot was down from £49.99 to £34.99 and the hub-enabled Echo Plus was down from £139.99 to £109.99 – and there were even bigger savings to be had if you bought two or more Echos. There are sure to be similar deals this year, and with Amazon expanding its smart speaker lineup with the Echo Show and Echo Spot, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be the perfect time to create a multi-room Echo setup without breaking the bank.
Amazon's tablets and ereaders also saw some generous discounts, with the Kindle Paperwhite down from £109.99 to just £79.99 and the Alexa-enabled Fire HD 10 Tablet getting a whopping £40 off, bringing it down from £149.99 to £109.99. The Fire TV and Fire TV stick were also on sale – and if Amazon's new Fire TV Cube makes it to the UK in time for Black Friday 2018 it'll likely get a price drop too.
Why is Black Friday called Black Friday?
The first known mention of Black Friday was in November 1951, when the journal Factory Management and Maintenance used it to describe the issue of people calling in sick the day after Thanksgiving so they could have an extra day off work.
At the same time, police in the US were using the phrases 'Black Friday' and 'Black Saturday' to describe the horrendous traffic jams that occurred at the beginning of the pre-Christmas shopping season. In 1961 some retailers tried to market the day as 'Big Friday' instead, but that one didn’t take off.
Why is Cyber Monday called Cyber Monday?
The term was coined by Ellen Davis and Scott Silverman, and it was a deliberate move to promote online shopping back in 2005, when the internet was made of wood and powered by steam.
It was intended to help smaller retailers compete with the big names who were banging on about Black Friday, although of course those big names promptly jumped on the Cyber Monday bandwagon too.
Are Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday deals real?
Oooh, the big question: and generally speaking, yes they are – although in some cases the discounts have been negotiated well in advance with suppliers, so they’re not as spontaneous as the sellers might have you believe.
As with any sales event you’ll see a mixture of genuine bargains, discounted end-of-line stock and strange things found in the back of a warehouse somewhere. In 2016, consumer magazine Which? accused retailers of some pretty dodgy behaviour.
If you avoid the slightly-shifty stuff, though, you can get some really great deals. For example, last year we got tons of money off 5K iMacs (end of line stock), Hi-Res audio players (deep discounting in the hope of selling headphones), wireless headphones (from another retailer hoping to sell Hi-Res audio players) and tons of Christmas presents.
And some TechRadar writers were physically restrained from spending all our savings on electric guitars, which were getting some serious discounting on high-end models.
How is TechRadar showing the best Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday deals?
On our Black Friday 2018 deals page and on our Cyber Monday 2018 deals page. We scour all the top retailers’ Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on your behalf, with the aid of serious amounts of caffeine, and we’ll tell you whether the deals are worth getting excited about. So whether it’s a 4K HDR OLED TV or a PSVR, if it’s discounted we’ll have the details here.
Can I get cashback on Black Friday deals?
Sometimes, yes. Your debit card or credit card may offer cashback on purchases, and cashback websites 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 2018 and Cyber Monday 2018 but for online shopping in general.
Am I protected when I buy on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
In the UK, yes. 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. However, be aware that it can be difficult enforcing the regulations if the company you’re buying from is located outside Europe.
How can I stay safe on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
Black Friday and Cyber Monday bring out the fraudsters and fakers as well as the sellers, so be wary of any unsolicited emails or any links to deals being shared on social media, no matter how legitimate they look; as ever with the internet, anything asking you for card details or login details is a scam.
Phishing sites rake in big piles of cash on Black Friday, so be extra suspicious, and if you’re on a PC, make sure your anti-malware software is up to date – many security suites automatically block known scammers, fraudsters and phishers.
What about physical safety? Wasn’t everybody kung fu fighting on Black Friday?
Yes, they were. In fact, it was a little bit frightening. The combination of bargain-crazed shoppers and poor crowd control has long made Black Friday synonymous with injuries and the odd scuffle, and sometimes much more serious trouble – in 2011 a woman pepper-sprayed rival bargain hunters in a California Walmart, while in 2016 a shopper was shot outside a Macy’s in New Jersey.
When the UK imported Black Friday it imported some of the trouble too, although thankfully it hasn't yet proved fatal. In 2014 police had to shut down a Tesco in north London because everybody was battling in the aisles, and there were scuffles in ASDA stores too, prompting that retailer to stop running Black Friday promotions from 2015 onwards.
Cyber Monday didn’t attract the same kind of trouble as it’s always been an internet event, and the more Black Friday moves online the fewer fisticuffs we're seeing.
- Check out our tips to avoid scams on Black Friday