Black Friday 2015: what is it, when is it and what are the best deals?

There are just over three weeks to go until the biggest shopping day of the year and some deals are already available so it’s time to start getting prepared. Here’s everything you need to know

Black Friday is a shopping phenomenon in the United States but retailers in the UK are following suit with one-off deals

Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, when retailers offer drastic deals and discount on their products to kick-start the Christmas shopping season.

If you think Boxing Day gets a little messy, you’re in for a nasty surprise.

Last year, British consumers spent £810m on Black Friday. That’s a rate of £9,375 every second. This year, sales are expected to surpass £1bn, with some predicting that’s how much UK shoppers will spend just on online purchases.

When is Black Friday?

The sales bonanza takes place the day after Thanksgiving, which is the fourth Thursday in November. This year, Black Friday falls on November 27.

Most sales kick off at midnight or at 8am, although the day is creeping earlier and earlier, with some retailers (particularly in the US) launching the deals the evening before. Last year, Amazon released flash deals every 10 minutes for the full week running up to Black Friday, and this year it seems to be running deals for the whole of November.

What are the best deals?

Now it’s November, retailers are starting to promote their deals. Here’s the current offering:

Amazon, which received orders for more than 5.5m goods on Black Friday last year, selling 64 items per second, is offering daily flash deals throughout November

John Lewis has launched its Black Friday website and, like last year, has promised to honour its Never Knowingly Undersold pledge and match its competitors’ prices.

Black Friday to boost footfall – is it stealing sales from Boxing Day?

Argos, which saw 660,000 visits to its website within one hour of launching its Black Friday deals, is encouraging shoppers to pre-register online for quicker access to its best deals.

Currys PC World has launched a price comparison app and is promising to match cheaper prices at its major competitors, including John Lewis, Argos, Asda and AO.com.

Very.co.uk is running “thousands” of deals in the run up to Black Friday, including a £1,299 Samsung 55-inch Curved Full HD Smart TV for £849.

• If you’re looking to buy a new laptop, you might want to wait until Black Friday. Context, the IT supply chain analyst, said that UK retailers imported a record high number of laptops last month.

For an idea of what else to expect, these are the deals that were available last year on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

What is Cyber Monday?

The term Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 to refer to the first day back at work after the Thanksgiving weekend, when people would continue their shopping online on their office computers. This year, Cyber Monday is on November 30th.

While many retailers offer online deals on Black Friday, usually a new trove of internet-only discounts are unleashed on Cyber Monday.

There’s also Small Business Saturday, an initiative started by American Express in the US that was picked up in the UK two years ago. It encourages consumers to support their local retailers.

Then there’s Sofa Sunday, a slightly less established term for the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, when turkey-bloated people who have shopped until they’ve dropped can continue the spending via mobile devices from the comfort of their own homes.

And if all this consumerism is getting you down, look forward to Giving Tuesday, a day that encourages the more charitable side of things.

Why does the UK care about Thanksgiving?

A worthy question.

Black Friday first arrived in the UK five years ago when Amazon thought it would try its luck bringing the shopping sensation to a new market. In 2013, Asda, which is owned by American retail giant Walmart, participated in UK’s version of Black Friday, and last year most major UK retailers including John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Argos and even British Airways jumped on board.

And with that, any remaining English decorum flew out the window. Shoppers trampled over each other in their rush to enter stores and police were called to break up fights as consumers grappled over discounted televisions and behaved “like animals”.

Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland even tabled a motion in the House of Commons criticising “large retailers who chose to adopt the American retail custom of Black Friday” for enabling public disorder and wasting police time. The motion, which was signed by Jeremy Corbyn, called on UK retailers not to engage in Black Friday again.

What will Black Friday look like this year?

While Jeremy Corbyn might be avoiding the sales mayhem, bargain-hungry shoppers are expected to descend in their droves on UK high streets and online stores.

Internet spending on Black Friday alone is expected to hit £1.07bn, a 32pc increase on last year’s £810m, according to Experian-IMRG, which will mark the first time that online retail sales in the UK will surpass £1bn in one day.

Britons will increase their web spending by almost a third on Cyber Monday and New Year’s Day too, to £943m and £638m respectively, while Boxing Day sales will tempt consumers to part with 22pc more than last year, or £856m. Even Christmas Day will not provide respite for wallets, with online spending expected to increase 11pc to £728m.

Over the entire five-week festive period, consumers are expected to spend £4.9bn on internet shopping, up from £4bn in 2014.

Shops themselves will be busy, too. Springboard predicts that footfall on Black Friday will be 11.5pc higher than last year, driven by a 17pc boost in visits to retail parks.

However, that doesn’t bode well for later on in the Christmas shopping period. Footfall is expected to be 8.8pc lower on Boxing Day than it was last year as consumers splash out on earlier sales or choose to shop online.

Last year was the first time that Boxing Day was not the highest retail spending day of the year in the UK.

Where did Black Friday get its name?

The term was first used in this context more than 50 years ago by Philadelphia police officers to describe the chaotic day after Thanksgivingwhen the city was overrun with the traffic of consumers flocking to the Christmas sales and sports fans travelling to the annual Army vs Navy American football match.

Retailers tried to rename the day “Big Friday”, but it didn’t stick.

It is also believed that the name comes from the day when many retailers, which do not make a profit until the Christmas trading period, move from the red into the black.

Due to the chaotic scenes that have become part and parcel of Black Friday, The Telegraph’s front page last year christened the day “black and blue Friday”.

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