Need to know
- Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now even bigger than Boxing Day sales
- Retailers have been significantly impacted by COVID, so you could miss out on some products if you wait for Black Friday
- Read the fine print and know your consumer rights before you hit the shops or the sale sites
Originally a US tradition, the yearly Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales have well and truly hit Australian shores, now surpassing even the yearly Boxing Day sales that send shoppers into a buying frenzy.
There are big bargains to be had, but how can you be sure you're getting a good deal and not a dud buy?
Here are our hot tips to help you navigate the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales with ease.
When are Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2021?
These epic sales are held on the Friday and Monday after Thanksgiving in the US, so this year they'll be:
- Black Friday: Friday 26 November 2021
- Cyber Monday: Monday 29 November 2021
While the 26th is the official day, many retailers have embraced the Black Friday phenomenon and you can find deals for a full week around the date, with early specials already on offer and discounts available throughout the following week.
If you're shopping on US sites, remember that the US is a day behind us, so keep an eye out for deals on Saturday 27 November (Australian time) and Tuesday 30 November for US sites that offer international shipping.
This year, there'll be lots of unknowns when it comes to sales and stock availability.
Even as Australia starts to open back up from lockdowns, COVID is still causing havoc: freight movement all around the world has been disrupted, which has created significant postal and courier delays and stock shortages.
And lockdowns have only strengthened our love of online shopping, which is putting further strain on already overloaded Australia Post and courier services.
If you're planning to wait until the Black Friday sales for those important Christmas presents, you might miss out
If you're planning to wait until the Black Friday sales for those important Christmas presents, you might miss out – especially if you're buying online and have to wait for delivery. Consider using click and collect services, shopping directly at the store, or finding alternative ways to gift, such as shopping for locally-produced, handmade products, or buying secondhand.
Here's exactly why you should shop early for Christmas this year.
Sure, the Black Friday sales are a great time to bag a bargain. But just remember they're not the only time you're going to be able to access some great discounts.
There are still bargains to be had throughout the year. And big sales can be an excuse for retailers to shift a bunch of product at not-especially-bargain prices. So try not to get swept up in the moment and buy for the sake of buying.
Remember that you might be able to talk some retailers into giving you discount prices ahead of the sale, while others might honour discounts after the sale frenzy has settled down. And others may be starting their sales at the beginning of November or even late October to capture the consumer dollar early.
Don't forget, too, that stock shortages due to the pandemic may mean that products just aren't on the shelves to begin with – so waiting until the sales could mean you miss out completely.
Sales like Black Friday are the perfect time to look for discounts on big-ticket items like TVs. But how can you tell if you're getting a bargain?
If you're comfortable buying last year's model, then there are plenty of options. But if you're trying to work out if the TV is old stock or a new model, the first thing you need to know is when the TV was released.
"COVID has made this year even more confusing than last year in this regard, as there's a mish-mash of 2020 and 2021 models, so look at the model and choose accordingly," says CHOICE TV expert Denis Gallagher.
Here's our expert tips for how to buy a bargain TV.
Denis shares this insider tip to help you get the most bang for your buck: "If you're looking for a big screen bargain, JB HiFi often has sales that combine a pretty good discount on the RRP with a JB HiFi gift card, which is good news for anyone who is also looking for gifts leading up to Christmas," he says.
"For example, a recent offer had a LG Nano86 75" 4K Ultra HD Smart TV (2021 model) for $2397 – that's $600 off the RRP. Plus they also throw in a $200 JB HiFi gift card, which you could put towards a soundbar for your new TV, or a gift for someone else."
CHOICE has been around for more than 60 years, so we've seen many a sale season come and go. Here are our top tips for helping you safe, sane and solvent when shopping the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
We always say this, don't we? But seriously, read all the things!
Before you even consider hitting the shops or the sites, find out the best places to go and who's offering what and for how much.
How to find the best deals
- Sign up to newsletters for special offers
- Follow retailers or brands on social media to get a heads-up on deals
- Check out websites and apps like Google Shopping, GetPrice and ShopBot
- Try price comparison apps like Shopular, ShopSavvy, BuyVia, ScanLife and others.
And of course, check out CHOICE's expert reviews to make sure the product you want will live up to your expectations.
How to make sure you're not paying too much
Just because something is discounted doesn't mean it's a good deal! Before you bust out your credit card or hit the 'buy now' button, make sure you know the recommended retail price and shop around for the best price.
Sometimes it's worth considering alternatives to the big name brands – as long as you've done your research
Sometimes it's worth considering alternatives to the big-name brands – as long as you've done your research. Our testing often reveals gems that outperform products worth twice as much, so check our reviews before you set your heart on a specific brand.
We independently test each product in our labs to bring you unbiased results so you can choose the best product for your needs – and your budget.
In Australia, you're protected under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), whether you've bought a product in a bricks-and-mortar store or an online store.
Companies that sell to Australia need to adhere to the ACL, but while that's the case in theory, in practice you might find it difficult to get a satisfactory resolution if you have problems with a faulty product.
Check the fine print
Retailers need to provide a remedy (refund, replacement or repair) for a faulty product, but they're not obliged to give you a refund or exchange if you just change your mind or find that something doesn't fit.
If you're stocking up on Christmas gifts and you're not sure whether your mum will love that vacuum cleaner (hot tip: she probably won't), check the store's returns policy. Keep the box and receipt in case you do change your mind.
You don't need the original packaging if you're returning a product because it's faulty. And 'no refund on sale items' signs are illegal: retailers must offer a refund or replacement on items with major faults, regardless of how much you paid.
To make sure you know what you're entitled to, check out our article on refund rights.
What to check before buying
While it's easy to get caught up in the sales buzz, don't forget to check and double-check the product you're putting in your cart.
Check product safety
Be careful when you're picking up an absolute steal that you're not also picking up an unsafe product.
Although we have Australian Standards for many products, there are many products that don't have a mandatory safety standard – including many children's products like cot mattresses, high chairs and bassinets.
CHOICE tip: If you're planning to stock up on toys for Christmas presents, here's how to buy the safest toys for babies and kids.
Not only that, but it's not illegal to sell unsafe products in Australia. Basically, this means that businesses are under no obligation to ensure they sell safe products, and they don't need to do anything unless their products cause serious injuries.
Learn more about products you should think twice about buying from overseas.
Check compatibility for tech products
The Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are usually a good time for Aussies to shop overseas and avoid the 'Australia tax' on personal tech such as iPhones, tablets and games.
But don't get caught out! Lots of these devices and products are locked for overseas use only and you're unlikely to get a refund – or a sympathetic retailer – if you make such an error.
Even the savviest online shopper can fall prey to dodgy operators or end up paying more than they'd expected.
Keep these few tips in mind to make sure you don't wind up out of pocket, or worse.
When paying online, only use a secure payment service. Look for a URL that starts with 'https' and a closed padlock symbol, or use a reputable payment provider such as PayPal.
Watch out for fake retailer websites too. Warning signs include:
- products advertised at prices that are too good to be true
- payment being requested via unusual channels, such as electronic funds transfer, wire service or iTunes vouchers or bitcoin
- social media stores that sell at very low prices, but have little information about delivery and other policies
- online retailers that don't provide adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, dispute resolution or contact details.
Be cautious when going global
If you're buying from an overseas retailer, there are a few things to consider.
It might sound like a no-brainer, but make sure the shipping costs don't negate the savings you're making on your purchase.
CHOICE tip: Save money when buying from international retailers by bundling purchases with friends and family to qualify for free shipping.
Aside from making sure the price is in Australian dollars, you'll also need to watch out for foreign transaction fees: you could be hit with fees by your credit card provider if the merchant's bank is outside Australia, even if you bought from a site ending in .com.au in Australian dollars.
And watch out for credit card surcharges: businesses can only charge you what it costs them to process card payments.
Check your credit card statements carefully after the sales period to make sure you haven't been overcharged.