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Consumer NZ study finds phony Black Friday deals

A Consumer NZ investigation into Black Friday sales at four big-box retailers has found that 77% of the products it tracked could have been purchased for the same price or less in the weeks prior to Black Friday. The non-profit tracked seven popular household items over ten weeks to see if they were good deals on Black Friday.

Farmers offered the worst Black Friday deals. The retailer had no Black Friday specials that were cheaper than pricing on offer at some point in the previous nine weeks.

“Black Friday sales are all about putting the pressure on and saying you need to buy now, but our research shows Black Friday is not offering particularly large savings,” said Gemma Rasmussen, Head of Research and Advocacy.

Harvey Norman offered the best discounts with three items cheaper on Black Friday than at any time in the nine weeks prior.

“The only way to discern meaningful bargains from bogus promotions is to do your research,” Rasmussen said.

“Terminology around sale pricing can be very persuasive, but sometimes it can be smoke and mirrors. First and foremost, Black Friday is a wildly successful marketing tool.”

Rasmussen urges shoppers to use free price-tracking tools like PriceSpy and PriceMe to decide if they are getting a genuine bargain.

“By searching for the product you’re tempted to buy and comparing today’s Black Friday price with historical price data you can discern whether you’re getting a good deal.”

“Shoppers assume a product with a sales sticker or discount tag offers a good deal. But unfortunately, as our investigation shows, that’s not always the case.”

The ‘bargains’ that left us baffled

Some Black Friday specials were available for cheaper in the weeks prior. For example, Noel Leeming sold the Delonghi Icona Kettle for $199.99 on Black Friday, but it could be purchased for $139.99 on the 25th of September, and $159.99 on the 16th of October.

Harvey Norman sold the Oral B 7000 electric toothbrush for $149 on Black Friday but on the 25th of September, it was on sale for $144.

Some retailers were notorious for always promoting a special.

“Across the 10 products we tracked at Harvey Norman, nearly every single one, every single week, was promoted as a ‘deal’ of some kind.”

But Rasmussen says, according to the Fair Trading Act, a special offer should be just that – something special or unusual.

“Black Friday marketing gives the impression that discounts are available for a limited period of time. But if a deal is ‘hot’ one week, it’ll probably be ‘huge’ or ‘great’ the following. Pause before you splurge is our advice.”

“Black Friday can be a great opportunity to purchase an item you’ve been coveting, but don’t trust retailers to let you know which deals are real.”

Some deals to be had

Harvey Norman is selling the Breville ‘Barista Pro’ at $1044 this Black Friday. This is the cheapest price on record at Harvey Norman for the ten week period Consumer tracked pricing.

The Market is selling the Dyson V11 stick vacuum for $849 which is a more competitive price than the nine weeks prior on the site.

Black Friday is big business

In 2022, Black Friday spending across Aotearoa reached $67 million.¹ For retailers, the benefits of Black Friday are obvious. It presents an opportunity to shift stock, entice new customers and of course boost sales.

But Consumer is concerned the benefits of Black Friday aren’t always felt equally by businesses and their customers.

“People are battling with their budgets just to stay on top of the essentials, they are more vulnerable to a special. With Christmas fast approaching, many households will be looking to get a bargain deal for the festive season.

“Retailers have a responsibility to participate in fair sales practices under the Fair Trading Act. A big part of that is ensuring that Black Friday promotions offer a genuine saving.”

 

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