11 November 2016

Your Black Friday survival guide

Our eight steps will help to take the stress out of Christmas shopping, whether you plan to bag some Black Friday bargains or resort to a last-minute trolley dash.

Black Friday is the ‘traditional’ American post-Thanksgiving discount day, followed by Cyber Monday (its online shopping counterpart). It's been drawing in bargain-hunting Britons since it first arrived in the UK. So much so that spending during the 2015 sales frenzy exceeded £1bn in just 24 hours according to Experian – and a record-breaking £3.3bn over the entire weekend, which also includes Cyber Monday.

But while Black Friday spending on Nationwide credit cards increased by nearly 17% between 2014 and 2015 (to well over £24m), experts believe that the biggest shopping day of the year is in danger of losing its title to Friday 23 December as retailers delay their best deals.  One reason for this may be that retailers have come to the same conclusion as market research firm Mintel – that late November discounting is damaging December sales.

Whenever you plan to squeeze in your shopping, our top tips will help you to keep control of your spending and reduce the stress so that you can concentrate on securing the perfect present – or just the best deal!

Eight steps to stress-free shopping

1. Make a list – and check it twice!
It’s easy to get carried away when faced with rock bottom prices. But does your Grandpa really need a nose-shaped shower gel dispenser? Before you hit the sales, make a list of people that you want to buy for, including ideas and how much you’re willing to spend on each.

2. Do your homework
To get the most out of your Christmas shopping, check out the discounts available for products on your list in advance. Retailers will be promoting their best deals, so sign up for newsletters, Twitter alerts and other notifications. To save trooping round every shop in town or paying for multiple deliveries, check whether any of the retailers you plan to buy from will price match – you may just find you can do most of your shopping in one place!

3. Avoid unwelcome surprises
Once you’ve finally got your hands on that perfect present, you won’t want to let it go. And after standing in what is likely to be a very long queue, that last thing you’ll want is to find your card’s declined at the checkout. One easy way to avoid accidental overspending is to sign up for free low balance text alerts – that way you’ll get a warning before you blow your budget or rack up fees for dipping into your overdraft. 

4. Stay safe online
Shopping from the relative safety of your own home might seem a more sensible option than battling for a bargain in store, but don’t forget that fraudsters will also be looking to take advantage of that.

Avoid: Clicking links in unrecognised emails – even if they offer a great deal! Instead, try using a search engine to find the offer yourself if you're interested.
Avoid: Paying by money transfer. A reputable seller should never ask you to do this and will provide normal payment options like PayPal or a credit card (which can offer greater protection for some transactions – see step 5).
Always: Check your statements regularly. Hang on to order confirmations and receipts and always report unrecognised payments to your bank. 

5. Play your cards right
It’s always disappointing if a product doesn’t show up or meet expectations, especially if you’ve logged on at the crack of dawn or risked your life fighting for it in the sales – we’ve all seen the YouTube videos! But the good news is that Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act can offer protection on credit card purchases of more than £100.

6. Plan for Christmas indulgence
If you think you’re likely to need a little bit extra to cover your Christmas purchases, one option is to use a credit card – just make sure that you can repay what you borrow.

7. Streamline your shopping
When present buying on your lunch break – or even Christmas Eve – every second counts. Using contactless, Apple Pay* or Android Pay** where you can will help you shave payments down to seconds. If you’re buying online, consider setting up accounts in advance for a speedy checkout.

8. Check that your card provider has your mobile number
Some providers, like Nationwide, may temporarily block a transaction on your debit or credit card if they think it is suspicious and then text or call you to find out. So to make sure you don’t miss out on a purchase, check that your contact details are up to date.

Nationwide credit cards are subject to status and available to UK residents aged 18 and over.

*Apple Pay is a trademark of Apple Inc. 

**Android Pay is a trademark of Google Inc. Android Pay is available on compatible Android devices using Android 4.4 and higher.

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