Bargain hunters better off buying bumper items on Black Friday than Boxing Day

Shoppers hunting for bargains online will be disappointed to learn that almost half of items in the sales on Christmas Day were available for the same price or cheaper at some point over the past nine months.

A Telegraph analysis of items at some of Britain’s best known shops, including John Lewis, Currys and Argos, showed that many of the discounts on offer were underwhelming. In many cases, prices were cheaper in November during the Black Friday promotions.

Instead of waiting until Boxing Day, millions of people logged onto their laptops in search of bargains on Christmas Day as shops started their winter sales earlier than usual. 

Fears of more lockdowns after Christmas are accelerating a trend that has been in motion for some years, with Harrods starting its festive sale on December 17.

Harrods began its festive sale on December 17

Credit: Jamie Lorriman for The Telegraph

In a survey of 2,000 adults, Barclaycard Payments found that more than a quarter will shop online on Christmas Day. It said that consumers were planning to spend an average of £247 in the end-of-year sales.

The Telegraph tracked the prices of 77 popular items, ranging from televisions and washing machines to designer perfumes and coffee machines. It found that 45 per cent of the deals listed online were cheaper or the same price at some point in the past nine months. Some shops are planning to slash prices further on Boxing Day, suggesting that shoppers are better off buying their items after Sunday.

Shoppers who purchased Apple’s second generation AirPods at John Lewis for £139 on Christmas Day would have been better off had they not waited. The earphones, which were listed as “reduced to clear”, were actually £20 cheaper last month. John Lewis was selling them for £119 on November 6.

A Philips steam iron at Currys would have set shoppers back £109 on Christmas Day. The retailer claimed that this was a saving of £110, but the same product could have been purchased for £89.99 on November 25.

Other discounted items simply matched their previous lows. A Hotpoint washing machine at Argos was on sale for £319.99, down from £377.99, but the price had simply been raised before being cut again. It was available for £319.99 on November 17.

John Lewis customers after Apple’s AirPods would have got them for £20 cheaper in November instead of on Christmas Day

It is illegal for retailers to offer misleading discounts, but some are able to get around the rules by repeatedly changing their prices. The law states that retailers are able to claim products are on sale only if they were selling the product at the higher price for a meaningful period of time.

The Telegraph analysis showed that discounts on electronic and home appliance items were among the least rewarding for consumers. As many as 60 per cent of the items tracked at AO World were available for the same price or less at some point over the period as were half of those at Currys.

However, the cosmetics category performed better. Almost all of the make-up items and perfumes tracked at Boots were cheaper than they have been at any point in the past nine months.

A spokesman for AO said: “Customers can get deals all year round at AO and our Boxing Day sale is another great opportunity to get genuine, great value deals alongside our year round price match guarantee.”

John Lewis, Currys and Argos were contacted for comment.

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