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Why it pays to think twice about spending on Black Friday

Black Friday deals may seem fantastic, but sometimes it's worth taking a deep breath before you hit 'add to cart'.

black friday
Last updated: 23 November 2023

Black Friday is almost here! Are you ready to sit perched, like an angry bin chicken, in a state of constant anxiety in a fruitless quest to secure the best deals on products you quite possibly don't need? I know I am!

Much like Halloween, a once American tradition has arrived on our shores, threatening to brainwash the Australian populace into thinking we all somehow need to take part and – above all – spend lots of money.

But what if, and hear us out here, you simply didn't buy stuff on Black Friday?

In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, when rents and interest rates are spiralling, and major supermarkets are bleeding us dry, Black Friday hits us like a tidal wave of cognitive dissonance: When everything's so expensive, can we actually afford to not save money by spending when everything's on sale? 

We reckon there's a few things to think about before you pull out the credit card. First and foremost, despite the apocalyptic language, Black Friday deals are rarely "the lowest price ever" or "once in a lifetime".

Despite the apocalyptic language, Black Friday deals are rarely 'the lowest price ever' or 'once in a lifetime'

A report by our UK sister site Which? found that 98% of products on sale during Black Friday 2021 were actually cheaper or the same price at other times during that year. So relax – if you miss out during Black Friday, you'll almost certainly get a second shot at a similar price down the line. Sites like CamelCamelCamel and ShopSavvy track prices across their history and are extremely useful.

We recommend doing some research to create a Black Friday shopping list of essentials. Instead of wading in looking for "bargains" it pays to build a list of items you actually need and use Black Friday strategically to save money on products you were planning to buy anyway. 

shopping black friday sales lead

A report on Black Friday found that many products were cheaper at other times of the year.

Which brings us to our next point: If you don't want to get sucked into the Black Friday vortex, simply don't check the sales. As human beings we tend to dramatically overestimate the strength of our willpower when it comes to fighting back against the endless vortex. 

It's understandable. Retailers and websites fighting tooth and nail for low margin sales volume and affiliate revenue are well-versed in the weaknesses of the human psyche. It's their full-time job to figure out the myriad methods required to separate you from your hard-earned dollars. You may think you're immune to marketing speak, but you're probably not. 

In Europe alone, an estimated 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 was launched into our atmosphere during last year's event

So, in short, if you don't want to spend money, stay away. (And maybe avoid looking at your inbox for a while!)

Then, of course, there are the ethical issues of shopping during Black Friday. In Europe alone, an estimated 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 was launched into our atmosphere during last year's event and it's also worth noting that Amazon warehouse workers in the UK and 40 other countries chose the Black Friday weekend to strike for better wages and conditions in a campaign called "Make Amazon Pay".

Ultimately, if you're looking for ethical reasons to not shop during Black Friday, you don't have to look far.

But if you're an individual, fighting against the fear of missing out, breathe easy. Unless you have a shopping list of items you need to purchase in the next few months, you don't have to shop on Black Friday. Don't let FOMO peer pressure you into spending money for no good reason.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.