Black Friday was once a day, now an entire month, of the sweetest consumer bargains in the world. Or, that’s what the marketing machine wants you to believe. The actual result is anything but. We get the same lukewarm deals trotted out year after year. An endless stream of crap Amazon Fire tablets, out of date tellies and 50% off GTA 5.

Our automatic impulse is that Black Friday has some insane deals. The latest AAA game for a dollar, a bargain-priced graphics card or a half-priced Xbox One X. Sometimes, just sometimes, these deals do actually exist, but stock is usually so minuscule that it’s only purpose is drive articles and clicks through to its store, rather than allow customers to actually get a great deal. Their trick is to spoon feed out these attention-grabbing deals, spurring customer interest. If you want to come out on top on Black Friday you need to be quick, analytical and have plenty of time to dedicate to it.

It’s still enough to kick some folks into a frenzy though, and I suspect footage will be flying around the net tomorrow of the latest stampede or supermarket brawl as shoppers desperately fight over a crap TV with a steep discount. These loss leaders are few and far between, and anything of genuine quality usually holds its price fairly well, for the most part. In fact, a study by Which? here in the UK revealed that 60% of last year’s Black Friday deals weren’t actually the cheapest price those products had been that year. By that logic, the majority of Black Friday ‘deals’ aren’t deals at all, but cheap cash-ins playing on the consumer logic that Black Friday is full of bargains.

At its very best, Black Friday can net you a great deal. At its norm, it encourages most to spend more than they should. At its worst, gamers (and consumers in general) aren’t getting great deals at all. It’s a trick that taps into our innate desire for consumption, driven by countless marketing dollars. It’s gone beyond logic, to the point where a lot of us feel like we haven’t done Black Friday right unless we’ve bought something, anything. It goes without saying, but spending isn’t saving money.

The nearest we can get to a foolproof approach to Black Friday is to know exactly what we want before the big day arrives, and know exactly how much it normally costs, both full price and discounted. If it’s something we previously know we want, we can be (more) sure that it’s a wise purchase. I’m a hypocrite on this front though, all too easily swayed by those Black Friday banner ads that I hope holds the ticket to a £300 GTX 1080.

Is Black Friday nothing more than a marketing trick to part us from our hard earned money? Or have you picked up some genuine bargains over the years? Let us know!

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