After the year we’ve had no one will blame us if we shop till we drop – online and off – starting … now. While Ireland suffered the second largest decrease in household expenditure (-22.8%) in the EU during this Covid-dominated year, many Irish consumers are expected to use their savings in the unprecedented sales deals offered by both Irish shops and international retailers starting mid-November, as non-essential trade recovers. So, go ahead, enjoy a little – or a little more! – retail therapy but make sure you don’t drop the ball when it comes to getting the best value for your money.

Many Irish people will experience the highs and lows of online Black Friday + Cyber Monday shopping for the first time this year. Black Friday 2020 falls on the 27th of November and Cyber Monday will follow on the 30th, but many Irish and international retail giants often launch their sales campaigns well ahead of Black Friday, and noticeably earlier this year, due to the latest Level 5 non-essential shop closures in the run-up to Christmas.

With Ireland in its second COVID-19 lockdown of 2020 it seems that many Irish consumers will stay well away from physical shops this festive season. The latest figures from a Revolut Ireland survey show that in November 2020 consumer online spending overtook in-person shopping for the first time (51%). Recent research published by credit card provider Visa in Ireland also shows that 21% of Irish consumers plan to do most of their shopping online this Christmas. Finally, another study by Amárach Research for Virgin Media Ireland shows that 47% of interviewees will be shopping online more than before, mostly for clothing (81%), footwear (60%) electronics (59%) and home entertainment (57%), traditionally the top Christmas shopping items alongside toys and decorations.

As Irish consumers are migrating online in 2020, they are also encouraged to buy local. Historically, most online purchases from Ireland (70%) went to overseas retailers and marketplaces, but Irish retailers are also ramping up their online presence and promotions, not least with a nationwide campaign called Green Friday, which promotes shopping on the websites and online shops of local Irish businesses under many hashtags, such as #GreenFridayIreland, #buyirish, #shoplocal, #shopsmallireland. Many small and medium Irish traders and producers are part of #championgreen, another national initiative supported by retail associations Retail Excellence, the Small Firms Association and Chambers Ireland that encourages people to turn Black Friday ‘Green.’

Black Friday/Cyber Monday – are they worth it?   

Black Friday marks the start of the Christmas shopping season, when many retailers, both on- and off-line, will be offering a variety of larger-than-usual discounts and deals, particularly on expensive products, luxury items and high-end gifts. Cyber Monday has become a thing as a result of the explosive growth of e-commerce and because retailers are keen to use their online channels to clear any excess sale stock that they couldn’t shift in their physical shops on Black Friday. Which is why Cyber Monday often generates even bigger discounts as retailers tend to reduce products even further to sell them off before re-stocking for Christmas.

Much of the promotional talk centres around “great deals”, “don’t miss this opportunity”, “sign up for great benefits”, “receive exclusive offers”, etc. Often, you will find that these have a very short availability and are known as “Lightning Deals”. The price reductions normally run until Cyber Monday but in recent years some retailers stretch out the discounts well after this date.

If you are wondering if you can really get a genuine deal on Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2020, the answer is: yes and no. If you’ve done your research and are one of the first to access the sales, you’ll probably get what you want. If you’re looking to make a spontaneous purchase, however, the sale stock might be no longer available for late shoppers, just like in the actual shops. To make sure you get the best deal available, keep these things in mind:


  • Make sure you’re getting a real deal – we’ve all seen examples of “deals” where retailers simply inflate the prices before reducing them down again in order to give customers the impression of getting “a huge discount”, so it’s advisable to track the price of your chosen product to see if the end price represents a genuine, net reduction after tax and shipping added in.


  • Keep in mind that Black Friday/Cyber Monday are a way for retailers to shift surplus summer stock and maybe an opportunity to clear some warehouse space for Christmas stock, so the selection of reduced items are not what you may expect or, indeed, worth buying even with the reduction in price.


  • Be aware that businesses must ensure that deals terms and time limits are clear and that they can supply the on-sale products for the increased demand generated by the promotional campaigns. Which is why customers should carefully consider “while stocks last” claims as it may be that, ultimately, only a small number of a particular product is available, meaning that it may be an end-of-line product that will sell out very fast.


  • Sometimes, substantial discounts may not, in the end, be available to most customers – this happens when businesses fail to ensure that enough consumers can take advantage of products sold at the highest discount point stated rather than many products at the lowest end. So don’t be disappointed that, by the time, you get to the sale page, the largest discounts are already gone.


Don’t get caught out …

As you join the online stampede this year, always ask yourself if what you are getting really is a great deal. If in doubt, remember these 7 simple tips from European Consumer Centre Ireland:


Don’t assume Black Friday deals are the best deals of the year

Products go on sale all the time these days, so don’t let the over-the-top marketing and feeling of urgency overwhelm your common sense. Particularly this year when more people migrate online for their shopping, the price deals generated by increased volumes are getting better and more frequent.


Do your research, compare prices and retailers

Look up the price before sale to make sure you really are getting an actual deal on your desired purchase. Do that on the websites of several retailers to get the most competitive deal. Always look at the final price rather than the saving discount, which is often vague, such as “up to XX% off”. If you are looking for a particular deal on a particular item, bookmark the web pages ahead of time to see the price updates when the sales launch at your chosen retailers. Make sure that price comparison claims between competitors are fair, verifiable and refer to like-for-like products/versions.


Look for additional savings with no strings attached

Many retailers will offer genuine, no-obligation add-ons to deals, such as free delivery, temporary discount codes and exclusive subscribers promotions. It’s worth signing up to retailers’ newsletters, loyalty programmes and/or following them on social media as this may give you early access to deals and additional discounts on top of the sale prices.


Get a great deal on a quality product

Don’t let the lure of a huge discount make you buy what is ultimately a poor-value product. Think of the discounted price as a bonus rather than using it as your starting point for your purchase. Superior quality products will also be more sustainable and durable, and often come with extended warranty/guarantee which means you are ultimately getting more out of your purchase.


Don’t fall for old news

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great for high-end tech products and entertainment gadgets. But, remember, that the sales are also a way for shops to shift old stock quickly before it becomes obsolete. While you might get a great price, you inadvertently might be buying old technology, which comes with limited features and compatibility issues that are outside warranty and/or are no longer supported by the manufacturer.


Save even more with click and collect

Consider buying online and collect at a later stage. While saving on the delivery fee, you can collect your purchase even after the shopping crowds have dispersed and it is safer to go to the shops and socially-distance in an orderly queue.


As always, check the small print

The rules that govern special offers and flash sales can be vague. Marketing tactics can make offers look better than they are: you may find that shops advertise “X% Off Everything!*”, followed by “*exclusions apply”. So make sure you are getting the product you want, at the right price.

You locked in on a good deal? 


Shop smartly and safely this Black Friday / Cyber Monday 2020 with our tips here.

Learn how to keep your online shopping safe and secure at all times here.

Find out more about what to do if you change your mind about an online purchase here.


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