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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Black Friday for beginners: shop smart, stay safe

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is an international retail sale traditionally held in November on the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the USA. It has become increasingly popular in Australia in recent years, with bargains being offered online and by bricks and mortar retailers.

Why is it called Black Friday?

According to Wikipedia, the earliest evidence of the phrase Black Friday was used to “describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving”.

The name can also be seen as a nod to the acts of violence and even deaths associated with the event. However, a popular – and more positive – suggestion is for economic reasons; it represents when retailers turn a profit from “in the red” to black.

When is Black Friday?

This year, Black Friday will be on 27 November. However, many retailers tend to spread out their promotions to more than just one day.

Shop smart, stay safe

Shopping events like Black Friday can provide a golden opportunity for scammers with fake online stores or posting goods for sale to trick people into buying items that don’t exist.

If you opt to shop the sales, a spokesperson for the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) offers the following tips to stay safe:

Warning signs

  • A product is advertised at an unbelievably low price, or advertised to have amazing benefits or features that sound too good to be true.
  • The social media-based store is very new and selling products at very low prices. The store may have limited information about delivery and other policies.
  • An online retailer does not provide adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, dispute resolution or contact details. The seller may be based overseas, or the seller does not allow payment through a secure payment service such as PayPal or a credit card transaction.

Protect yourself

  • Check if the website or social media page has a refund or returns policy, and that their policies sound fair. The better online shopping and auction sites have detailed complaint or dispute handling processes in case something goes wrong.
  • When using retail websites, find out exactly who you are dealing with. If it is an Australian company, you are in a much better position to sort out the problem if something goes wrong.
  • Do an online search to find more information about a social media store. Research and read independent reviews of any company or product before purchasing.
  • When making online payments, only pay for items using a secure payment service. Look for a URL starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol, or a payment provider such as PayPal. Think twice before using virtual currencies such as bitcoin, which do not have the same protections as other transaction methods so you can’t get your money back once you send it.
  • Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency, like Bitcoin. It is rare to recover money sent this way. Never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you don’t know or trust.
  • If you’ve sent money or shared your banking details with a scammer, contact your financial institution immediately. They may be able to stop a transaction, or close your account if the scammer has your account details. Your credit card provider may be able to perform a ‘charge back’ (reverse the transaction) if your credit card was billed fraudulently.

Shop the sales

For local deals from reputable businesses in the Canberra region, check out the Black Friday feature in next week’s Canberra Weekly (Thursday 26 November edition), also available on the CW website from Wednesday 25 November.

Though plenty of retailers have jumped on the bandwagon, Black Friday is still a relatively new concept for Aussies and many consumers are missing a trick to save money.

According to Bessie Hassan, Money Expert at comparison site, finder.com.au, “retailers regularly have sales, so you shouldn’t be paying full price for anything. Beyond Christmas, think ahead for a New Year’s Eve outfit or back to school needs”.

“The trick is to start browsing now. Jump online and check out your favourite sites, then start bookmarking or adding what you’d like to buy to your shopping cart,” she said.

“Once the sale starts, you can easily see if the goods on your wish list are reduced, and quickly check out.”

Meantime, research by finder.com.au last year revealed 71% of people – equivalent to 13.8 million Australians – planned on shopping Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2019.

The survey of 1,003 respondents showed Aussies were planning to spend $3.9 billion across the country in November 2019,, on a variety of products including clothes, beauty, gadgets and travel.

Last year (before the global Coronavirus pandemic) Aussies were planning to spend the most on travel, forking out on average $130 per person. This was followed by food and alcohol where Aussies were set to spend $127. Clothes and shoes rounded out the top three deals and discounts Aussies intended to make the most of, spending on average $93 in the lead up to Christmas.

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