Price comparison sites such as idealo.co.uk can help shoppers bag the best Black Friday bargains – and avoid dud discounts.
I’m all in favour of saving money when shopping, but I like to know that I’m getting a genuinely good deal.
Black Friday, coming up on 29 November, and Cyber Monday on 2 December, promise big savings. But the offers aren’t always as good as the marketing hype suggests.
Consumer champion Which? investigated Black Friday deals on nearly 100 popular products, and found that 87% were available for the same price or less at other times of year. Meanwhile idealo.co.uk looked at ten popular categories, including smartphones, washing machines, games consoles and vacuum cleaners, and found that only one of the big-ticket items was actually cheapest on Black Friday (laptops, FYI).
So if you’re keen to sort the mega deals from the dodgy discounts, here’s how price comparison sites can help.
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What is a price comparison site?
You may have used a price comparison site to save money on your bills, such as car insurance, electricity or broadband. But you can also find price comparison sites that save money on your shopping, by tracking down the cheapest prices.
For this post, I’ve focused on idealo.co.uk, Europe’s biggest price comparison website, which checks thousands of online retailers selling stuff from toys to technology and shoes to smartphones.
So here’s how savvy shoppers can use price comparison websites to find the best deals – whether for Black Friday, Christmas shopping or any other time of year!
My top tip is to prepare ahead. Make a list of the stuff you really want, check reviews, nail down specific items and tot up how much you are willing to spend. No point wasting money on dodgy brands that don’t last or don’t work, no matter how big the discount.
Last year, for example, my laptop was on its last legs, so I was searching for a good deal on a replacement. This year, I’m keen to find special offers on Harry Potter Lego for Christmas presents.
Don’t get dazzled by discounts
Making a list can help avoid being panicked into buying random items just because they’re on offer.
Websites use all kinds of marketing tricks to persuade us to part with our cash, like counting down time till an offer ends, or showing how many people have bought a particular item.
Even if something’s 50% off, you still have to pay the other 50%. Great if you find something you’d have bought anyway. Not so great if you end up spending money you can’t afford.
Check prices on a price comparison site
Ever been frustrated when buying something advertised at a big discount, only to find that’s the normal price everywhere else? Or – worse – spotted your bargain selling for much less?
Ta da! That’s where price comparison websites can help.
So next time you see an offer – stop. Check if you can get it cheaper elsewhere. Searching a price comparison site can save time and money compared to trawling through loads of different shopping sites.
For example, searching idealo.co.uk for ‘Harry Potter Lego’ throws up ranges of prices from the reasonable to the frankly ridiculous (£349 to £424 for Hogwarts Castle, anyone?). This also helps weed out supposedly discount prices (30% off! 50% off!) which are actually the same price everywhere else.
Depending on what you’re searching for, you can use filters to focus the results, so you might pick a specific age range for a child’s toy, or a colour and style for shoes.
Find the cheapest shop
Checking idealo.co.uk shows that a substantial set like the Hogwarts Express can range in price from £51.97 at Amazon to £75 at Next, Zavvi and the Lego Shop. Saving almost a third on exactly the same set sounds good to me.
Compare prices including delivery
Comparing prices including P&P weeds out online retailers which shout about low prices but whack on expensive delivery charges. Luckily idealo.co.uk has a grey / green slider so you choose to compare prices with or without delivery.
I do check prices without delivery too, in case I spot stores where I can click and collect, or add extra items to push the total above the threshold for free delivery.
You can also filter for ‘ready for dispatch only’ if you need something in a hurry, and ‘only without return charges’, though this will narrow your options considerably.
Check the price history
If you want to make sure a Black Friday price is genuinely a good deal, use a price comparison website to check the ‘price history’.
Idealo.co.uk provides dinky graphs so you can flick between the cheapest prices over the last 3 months, 6 months or a year, to see if your items is normally cheaper.
The price history graph above shows that the Hogwarts Express set is actually at a pretty good price right now – it’s only been cheaper once in the last year.
Set a price alert
Want to see if you can get something for less on on Black Friday?
Set up a ‘price alert’ now, to be emailed if the item drops below the level you choose. It’s easy. Click on the ‘price alert’ button, top right of the screen under the price history graph, pop in a target price, add your email address and click save.
Sure I’m not going to set a price alert for every bourbon biscuit, but for an expensive item – certainly!
And don’t worry, there’s also a function to manage and remove individual price alerts, or unsubscribe completely.
If you do spot a mega deal, remember to swing by cashback websites like TopCashback or Quidco before buying.
See if you can claim some pennies back on your purchase, just by clicking through from the cashback website first.
Get ‘appy when out and about
Price comparison websites can also be useful in high street stores. Idealo.co.uk has an app with a barcode scanner. So if you discover something in a shop, it’s super easy to scan the barcode with your smartphone and discover if you can actually get the identical item for way less online.
Above all, remember that Black Friday isn’t the only time to find discounts – there will be other sales and offers in future! Price comparison websites are your secret weapon for saving a ton of money all year round.
Now over to you – anything you’re planning to buy on Black Friday? What are your top tips for bagging the best bargains?
This is a collaborative post with idealo.co.uk