Black Friday discounts: check out your deals

Black Friday and Cyber Monday is here! While consumers generally welcome one of the largest consumer sales periods of the year, it’s been reported that certain discounts and promotions offered by retailers may not offer the best value, and in some circumstances could be in breach of consumer protection laws.

Following 2021’s Black Friday, the consumer body Which? has recently reported that 98% of products that were on sale on Black Friday were actually cheaper or the same as their Black Friday price at other times in the year, and that 86% of the items had also been the same price or cheaper in the six months before Black Friday. None of the 214 products that were analysed were at their very cheapest price on Black Friday 2021. This is not necessarily surprising as retailers are now offering attractive discounts and promotions throughout the year rather than just before and after Christmas, however it is a timely reminder to take stock of the rules relating to pricing practices to ensure that any deal offered does not mislead consumers or overstate the savings to be made. 

We have summarised below some key promotional claims and some watch-outs for retailers. If you would like to run any of your promotional pricing campaigns past our International Business-to-Consumer team, please get in touch.

Promotional claims 

Up to, All and Everything claims 

If you use a claim such as “up to 50% off” then you must ensure that a significant proportion of sale items are discounted at the maximum saving, and that these claims represent the overall picture of the price promotion. There is guidance on how many items (and the range) that need to be included in the promotion to run the sale in a fair and transparent manner. 

Any marketing materials should be carefully checked to ensure that where claims such as “all” or “50% off everything” are used, the reality of the offer is not misleading. 

General savings claims 

Promotions that make more general savings claims, such as “save 25%” need to be genuine, accurate and must not exaggerate the savings. As a general rule of thumb, a 1:1 ratio should be applied so that the sale price for any item during a promotion is not available for longer than the normal selling price. 

In addition, the sale price should be set against the most recent price available and any false inflation in price prior to Black Friday (for the purpose of demonstrating a bigger discount) is likely to be found misleading. For example, if you use ‘was/now’ claims which compare an advertised price to a price previously charged, then you should ensure that the previous higher price was a genuine retail price, and a significant quantity of the products were placed on sale and sold at that price. 

Conditional purchase – get an item for free 

Some retailers offer free items when a big ticket item is purchased during a Black Friday event (e.g. free headphones when you purchase a TV). It’s important to get your marketing and communications around this offer right, as there are certain potential pitfalls associated with describing something as ‘free’ (whether as a standalone item or part of a package). 

Free delivery 

Often retailers will use claims such as “free delivery on all orders” or “free next day delivery”. You should make sure that what you are describing is accurate, and that the claims are qualified where they need to be if any restrictions apply. There are also rules surrounding the pricing of products when you include “free delivery” that should mean consumers are receiving a genuine saving. 


Finally, retailers should not unnecessarily disappoint consumers when running promotions, and should flag all significant T&Cs clearly. As Black Friday is a busy time for consumers, any limits on availability should be made very clear, and including the qualification “subject to availability” just might not be enough. 

Authored by Shona O'Connell and Amy Cole.

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