How to evaluate a Black Friday deal

25 November 2021

The South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) warns buyers against overspending on ill-considered purchases advertised as Black Friday deals.

“Black Friday specials often aim to exploit the emotional vulnerability of consumers and society to counter logical, responsible financial decisions,” says Faith Ngwenya, Technical and Standards Executive at SAIPA. “Even if the discount on a non-perishable necessity is proven, not just advertised, excessively overstocking on those items will have a negative impact on finances that should be allocated to future expenses.”

SAIPA advises consumers to keep four considerations in mind to ensure responsible financial decisions while making use of Black Friday deals.

Consider quality over quantity
Check whether the detailed specification of the product or service on offer suits your needs, especially for larger purchases. “A reduction in quality or suitability might be hidden in the fine print, and you might only be able to spot it if you compare it to what you currently use or what you intend to use the item or service for during its lifespan.”

Consider history over hype
Using a fictitious “before” price to make the “deal” price seem like a discount is an old but very effective advertising trick. Experienced Black Friday shoppers start keeping an eye on their target items months before the big day, so they know whether a discount is as good as it seems.

“Browsing through old sales catalogues, advertisements or annual fee flyers can give less-prepared buyers a similar edge,” says Ngwenya.

Consider bits over bundle
Deals are sometimes structured as bundles of items or fees to make purchasing decisions seem easier. “It’s always worth investigating the actual value of the various bits included in an offer to see if it really does make financial sense,” warns Ngwenya.

Consider reason over rush
Another highly effective advertising trick is imposing time limits on certain deals. In the rush to beat the clock, buyers make decisions based on the short-term relief they get from the pressure of making that decision, leading to unnecessary or ill-considered purchases.

“It might help to have a shopping partner by your side to help remind you of your financial position or long-term goals,” says Ngwenya.