The day after the US Thanksgiving holiday, on which anti-climactic Americans traditionally rush to the shops in the manner of a British Boxing Day, has been embraced by retailers on this side of the Atlantic in recent years as a sales opportunity.
But the consumer group Which? said it had tracked the prices of 94 products, including televisions, cameras and fitness trackers, promoted on Black Friday last year, for the six months before and after, and found an overwhelming majority had been cheaper at other times of the year.
The organisation said the findings brought into question the true value of the event, which returns this Friday.
It said an 60-inch LG television advertised at £799 by Amazon on Black Friday had been £50 cheaper on 62 subsequent occasions and had fallen by a further £150 at the end of December and beginning of January.
A 49-inch TV by the same maker was £599 on Black Friday at Currys PC World, but £20 cheaper from the end of December to mid-January, and again in April.
Many of the big supermarkets withdrew from promoting Black Friday after dramatic scenes in which shoppers pushed each other aside to try to get Christmas bargains. But other retailers have persisted, and Which? said it examined products at John Lewis and Argos, and that across all shops, 87 per cent were cheaper at other times of the year,.
It said shoppers would be well advised to do their research before heading to the shops this week and to avoid buying on impulse.
Alex Neill, managing director of home products and services at Which? said: “The results of our investigation will disappoint many who are expecting nothing but bargains this Black Friday.
“While retailers are bombarding us with promises of great discounts and time-limited sales, it’s clear that not all deals are as good as they might appear.”
Currys PC World said it offered “pricing transparency” by stating when a product was available for a higher price, and Amazon said it offered “thousands of incredible deals around Black Friday”. John Lewis said it lowered prices when competitors ran promotions, and Argos said Black Friday offers were not excluded from other promotions.