We found dozens of fake promotions during Black Friday: the products most at risk

Black Friday, ideal time to save money or a scam market? We analyzed prices at around fifteen merchants during the last edition.

We found dozens of fake promotions during Black Friday: the products most at risk

Black Friday, ideal time to save money or a scam market? We analyzed prices at around fifteen merchants during the last edition. And "Black Friday" doesn't always deserve its reputation...

There are only a few days left before the start of Black Friday 2023. A blessed period for online merchants who generally multiply their turnover thanks to an avalanche of promotions, on a large number of products. Despite a small decline in sales in 2022 (of 2%, mainly linked to inflation), the Black Friday period is also popular with consumers for making expensive purchases and preparing Christmas gifts.

But does the famous “Black Friday” deserve its reputation as a price dynamiter? We wanted to check if the promotions displayed during the last Black Friday were really worth it. Thanks to our engine directly connected to merchant feeds, we follow the evolution of the prices of several hundred products from day to day over long periods. Enough to display in our purchasing guides the best prices of the moment for each reference.

We have compiled this data on dozens of flagship products, which are almost systematically found in Black Friday offers year after year. For each, we established the lowest price displayed each day between July 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022, on a sample of around fifteen online merchants. Our results are enlightening: the majority of products surveyed observe a sharp price increase during the weeks preceding Black Friday. A technique that allows merchant sites to display a greater reduction on the big day. Here are some of those readings.

These headphones launched by Apple several years ago are regularly sought after during the end-of-year periods. Generally priced around 120 to 130 euros, they saw their lowest price increase during the month of October last year and even more from November 11, just two weeks before Black Friday 2022. This increase was followed by a drastic drop at the start of Black Friday Week (November 21 and 22), then on Black Friday Day (November 25), with a floor price falling to 118 euros. Except that in reality, the AirPods 2 were already at this level at the beginning of October (119 euros).

If you don't see the chart, click here

Many scams during Black Friday concern the most expensive high-tech products like tablets (the iPad or Galaxy Tabs). The iPad 9 was particularly affected last fall with an average price of 350 euros before strong fluctuations from October 20, which caused it to rise to more than 400 euros in mid-November. Black Friday will be an opportunity to find it at its starting price, i.e. 348 euros on the day. Prices soared again after that, but if you thought you won 50 euros that day, you were probably wrong.

If you don't see the chart, click here

When buying a television, the technologies (UHD, OLED, QLED, 4K),  ranges, sizes and models are so numerous that the choice very often turns out to be complex. It is even more so when Black Friday displays very exaggerated crossed-out prices almost everywhere. One of the best-selling brand televisions, Samsung, for example, saw its prices skyrocket last year. The Q80A, a 4K television with QLED technology, peaked at 1,049 euros between October 26 and November 10 before dropping to 790 euros during Black Friday. A huge discount? No ! We found an even lower price, at 760 euros. But it was at the end of August.

If you don't see the chart, click here

All product ranges are affected by Black Friday, such as toys or household appliances, in particular robot vacuum cleaners, with references such as Dyson, Xiaomi, Neato and Roomba. And these devices are not immune to scams: the Roomba iRobot E5154 robot vacuum cleaner also suffered a significant price increase in the days leading up to “Black Friday”. According to our records, its lowest price exploded at the end of October and rose to nearly 350 euros on November 19, 2022, before falling to less than 300 euros on Black Friday, more or less its price at the start of the month of October. It was even sold for less than 250 euros in the second half of October.

If you don't see the chart, click here

Launched in January 2021, the Samsung Galaxy A32 remains an excellent choice today for a mid-range smartphone with its 6.4" Super AMOLED screen, 64MP quad camera and 5000mAh battery. While it was observed at less than 211 euros at the end of July 2022, its lowest price climbed to almost 260 euros on August 20, then continued to fluctuate with a new peak at 243 euros in early October. It finally settled at 221 euros per week of Black Friday. But it was actually more expensive than a week earlier (216 euros on November 17) and especially than in the heart of summer.

If you don't see the chart, click here

Smartphones, which have a tendency to discount over time and the arrival of their replacements each year, nevertheless display very real promotions during Black Friday. Some promotions on high-end products in fact turned out to be genuine last year. The Google Pixel 6, for example, reached a nice price of 429 euros during the week of the event. Its base price was, at the time, more around 480 to 490 euros or even more than 500 euros at the beginning of October.

If you don't see the chart, click here

Raising prices and then lowering them: a calculated strategy

There is one constant in our analysis of prices at the end of the year: after Black Friday, the majority of prices skyrocket until the end of December and sometimes until the January sales. High demand during Christmas shopping, last-minute gifts and sometimes inventory shortages, combined with high inflation for over a year now, provide no incentive to sell off once the deal is over. Buying during Black Friday therefore remains a good option.

But another phenomenon is also very common: price increases in the weeks leading up to Black Friday. These observations were confirmed on a large majority of the products studied by the editorial team.

Since May 28, 2022, European Directive 2019/2161 - also called "Omnibus" - requires online sales platforms that display promotions to compare them to the lowest price charged during the previous 30 days. Merchants have found a way to circumvent this rule by inventing the concept of “recommended price” or “reference price”. A price that they have every interest in inflating in these 30 days preceding Black Friday to display greater reductions on D-Day or during Black Friday Week.

The consumer in a hurry or distracted, who does not examine recent price fluctuations, will think he is getting a good deal when the product will very often, in reality, be at its base price.

Several sites and organizations have already investigated these abuses by online merchants during Black Friday. The DGCCRF warns every year about “false good deals”. The CLCV (national association for the defense of consumers and users) website also published a survey in 2022 proving that promotions were often exaggerated, and that the majority of price reductions were of the order of 13-15% rather than the famous 70-80% announced each year.

Faced with these well-established techniques, consumers can quickly feel betrayed and no longer want to trust large e-commerce platforms. However, real promotions do exist. Finding them just takes a little more investment and research. Here are some tips to follow when you come across a promotion:

In all cases, distrust is required. False promotions abound all year round on the internet, and these are much more present during periods such as sales or Black Friday.