Black Friday and Cyber Monday are almost upon us as shoppers are poised with credit cards and ready to bag a bargain.
Both days create a shopping frenzy thanks to an American craze which has filtered across the Atlantic on to British soil.
What is Black Friday?
Black Friday always falls the day after the American holiday of Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November) and is regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the United States.
It is a day when retailers in the US have traditionally experienced a big surge in shoppers starting their Christmas shopping.
What is Cyber Monday?
Cyber Monday has emerged out of the Black Friday phenomenon as a day which shows a big surge in people shopping online.
In this way, Cyber Monday is ideal for those who don’t fancy getting caught up in the crowds on the high street and prefer to buy online in the comfort of their own home.
These American shopping trends have now caught on this side of the pond. UK companies first got wise to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2010, and the two big shopping days have gathered momentum ever since.
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What benefits can shoppers expect on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
Discounts can be generous at around 40% off some items. There is no telling exactly who will discount what until they release details. But you can expect to see big price cuts on household names, from technology brands to fashion and beauty.
What you need to know about Black Friday and Cyber Monday...
1. Which items are discounted?
The most popular items sold on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are electronics and gadgets from iPads and tablets to laptops, TVs and video games.
Check out Amazon, Currys, John Lewis and Halfords for starters. Tesco and Asda and Sainsbury's are also worth a look.
Retailers keen to get people shopping earlier for Christmas are extending the discounts to fashion and beauty.
Discounts are expected from the likes of Kurt Geiger and Dorothy Perkins.
2. Sign up to receive emails from your favourite shops and brands
Sign up for emails from all of your favourite brands in advance. Email is still the preferred mode of communication for most retailers when sharing offers, so this approach ensures you don't miss out.
3. Shop during unsociable hours online to get the best deals
Not only can you shop 24/7 online: retailers often release their deals at very unsociable hours.
In some cases it's part of their marketing strategy, in others they are bridging time zones and want to put all of their offers up at one time.
Since you can shop in your pyjamas from the comfort of your sofa, shopping "out of hours" isn't so bad after all.
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4. Make sure you check out US websites
Most of the biggest names in retail ship globally. With a weak dollar to the pound, and competitive shipping costs, you might find some of your best options come from shopping on American websites.
And even with the cost of customs and duties, the discount and variety of goods available may still put you ahead.
Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales are all worth a good look at online.
5. Don't take retailers' word for it that you are getting a bargain
Make sure you check what other retailers are charging elsewhere. A 25% discount of a higher price doesn't equate to a bargain.
Make your shopping list in advance and use a shopping search engine to help find the cheapest price for the item you're looking for before the sales start.
Compare the prices to any relevant discounts to decide whether it's worth buying while the promotion is running.
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