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Watching the YouTube clips of punters rushing to get a cut price TV during last Black Friday was depressing. There are plenty of other easier and more civilised ways to get a bargain.

The mob mentality that seemed to take over these bargain hunters saw them stepping over people who’d fallen in the rush, barging people out of the way, and even resorting to actual fighting. All to save £50.

Few people stopped to help or bring some sanity to the situation – their eyes were on the prize and nothing was going to stop them getting there first.

I love a bargain but the hype behind Black Friday seems to have made people forget how to be normal human beings!

But being first and fast can work for getting the best deals. And you don’t have to be a selfish idiot. Here’s what I do:

Keep informed

Well, you’re reading this so that’s a good start. I regularly post offers and sales which I think are good value in my Vouchers and deals section. For Black Friday, I’ll be updating my Who’s doing Black Friday and when deals page across the week and weekend, so it’s a good hub to bookmark.

You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ to hear first about the best deals I find.

If there are brands you love – or wish you could afford – sign up for their newsletters or follow them on social networks. You’ll hear first about flash sales and other deals.

Know your rights

If you’re heading to a particular shop or online store, make sure you know your return rights ahead of the sale. If you’re able to return items for a refund it means you can buy now, think later – just make sure you keep your receipt.

Online you’ll be able to return anything you buy within 14 days.  In physical shops it can vary. Shops don’t have to refund you. They can give you store credit, and sometimes refuse unless there’s a fault with the item.

Make sure it’s a legitimate shop you’re buying from too. If you don’t know the website, look for HTTPS and a padlock in the address bar.

Paying by credit card gives extra protection for items over £100 if the site or shop is dodgy.

Don’t hesitate

Really good deals go quickly, especially online. If you want to think about it there’s a good chance you’ll miss out.

Ideally you’ll know in advance the kind of thing you’re after and how much it costs, so you should be able to quickly see if it’s a deal or not.

If you’re in a shop, pick it up straight away. You can always put it back. Then use your phone to compare prices and see if it really is the cheapest.

Online you have to buy quickly as nothing is yours until you’ve paid and it’s confirmed. Remember you have far more rights online to return items. This means you can price check and read reviews later. If it’s not a deal or not quite what you are after you might be able to cancel the order before it’s even sent out.

Don’t wait

You don’t always have a choice as other commitments will get in the way for all but the most dedicated bargain hunter – but the longer you wait the bigger the chance you’ll miss out.

Last year I featured a free t-shirt voucher for Uniqlo. There isn’t a store near my work so it took me a few days to head to the nearest one. Unfortunately they’d run out of my size by then – though I was still able to get one for my girlfriend.

Don’t go for the most popular item

This is a tactic I use when buying gig and festival tickets. Getting a 6am coach ticket for Glasto might have been an early start, but I knew I had a better chance for then than more sociable departure times or those without the included travel.

It’s the same shopping online and in-store. If everyone is going for the big ticket item, they’re not looking at what else is on offer.

Do your research in advance

I’ve never quite got why the winter Next sale is so popular. Leaving the house on Christmas Day to queue for some cut price clothes isn’t my idea of fun. But if you want to head to that or sales like we saw on Black Friday do your research first.

If you can go to the shop a few days before. Try clothes on, measure furniture and try to decide if the item is what you want. Try and talk to sales people about what’s going to happen – they might even be able to tell you where items are going to be so you can get there first.

Read reviews for any technology items – the TVs that people fought over in Asda last year were listed on Which? as “Don’t Buy” and the savings only £30 from a few weeks earlier. For me, that’s not worth the massive queue and subsequent bunfight to get hold of one.

Hopefully these tips should give you a head start! Just remember it’s not a bargain if you don’t need it!

Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrec/


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