What are Black Friday and Cyber Monday and how long do they …

A retail expert, who worked as a consultant for 30 years with high street giants such as Sainsbury's, Monsoon, Asda and Accessorize, has offered several invaluable tips for shopping this Black Friday.

First and foremost, Clare Bailey, urged customers to set a budget, do their research and look for price guarantees this Friday (25 November).

The entrepreneur from Lincolnshire, said, "There are more people than ever before concerned about their spending and Black Friday represents an opportunity to bag a bargain in the pre-Christmas season.

"But when it comes to making sure you're spending wisely research is paramount.

"There are so many ways to make your money go further - if you aren't particular about the latest model of an item, or don't mind if something is pre-loved."

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Bailey splits her seven pieces of advice into two sections - being prepared and being savvy.

She said, "First of all, create a wish list. Whilst the excitement of Black Friday could result in you spending a lot of money, a bargain is only a bargain if you wanted it in the first place.

"You can even do this virtually on sites such as Amazon as an efficient way of shopping to keep an eye on deals.

"Ask yourself which items are a 'want' and which are a 'need', then place them in priority order accordingly.

"Another aspect of planning is to set yourself a budget. Be clear about what you are willing and able to spend. Be strict with yourself, and do not go over that limit.

"Make sure you research too - use tools like Google shopping and price comparison sites like camelcamelcamel.com which is a price tracker.

"Check original prices and discounted prices - is it a genuine discount?

"Then also look for price guarantees. It's the perfect way to buy in confidence that you won't discover the same item cheaper elsewhere.

"We all remember John Lewis' 'never knowingly undersold' - which is sadly no longer active - but places like Amazon have launched price matching on millions of products."

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Once prepared, Bailey urges shoppers to be savvy - using clearance and preloved and sites, looking out for bundle deals and shopping from local or small businesses.

She said: "A lot of retailers have their own clearance site for end of line, ex display or even products with minor damages.

"These are often heavily discounted to enable them to get rid of the stock and free up their warehouse space.

"More and more retailers are offering pre-owned and pre-loved items as well, alongside buy back schemes that allow them to refurbish items and sell them on at a discount.

"A lot of retailers also make use of bundle deals to get us to bump up our spending. Be cautious and refer to the wish list - do the extra items in the bundle appear on it?

"If not, are you just being drawn into spending more than you need. Don't allow your budget to be blown away by a bundle.

"And finally, shop small and shop local. Since the pandemic, more consumers have felt that they would like to divert their spending to small or local businesses.

"You could still shop around, but many items will not be comparable, meaning price comparison is almost impossible.

"Bear in mind that many smaller businesses don't have their own online presence, but choose to sell through marketplaces like eBay, Etsy and Amazon.

"There are over 85,000 small businesses on Amazon, so even on there it's easy for shoppers to support that community.

"Above all, with some good research and bargain hunting you'll be able to maximise savings this Black Friday."

Bailey's full list of Black Friday top tips are:

1. Create a wish list
2. Set yourself a budget
3. Do your research
4. Look for price guarantees
5. Use clearance sites and buy pre-loved
6. Be wary of bundle deals
7. Shop local and small

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