Black Friday got off to a slow start in the UK, but now it’s become one of the country’s biggest shopping days. Here’s our tips on how to find a good deal.
Black Friday: the phrase can either fill you with dread or joy. It’s a time to get some great deals on electronics and other Christmas gifts, and broadband providers have started piggybacking on the uptake in electronics purchases by offering Black Friday broadband deals.
But with so many offers, it can be hard to figure out which ones are the best.
We’ve compiled this guide to give you our take on Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and help you navigate what to look for in broadband bundles.
What is Black Friday?
Black Friday comes to us from the US. The name refers to the Friday following Thanksgiving, which is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Therefore, Black Friday is always the fourth Friday in November.
Since the early 20th century, this day has come to signal the beginning of the Christmas shopping season for a few reasons. In America, Thanksgiving is a major holiday, and there are televised parades – usually sponsored by department stores – to celebrate the holiday. At the end of most parades, Santa Claus makes an appearance, which inevitably makes people start thinking about Christmas and shopping.
This is convenient because students and most non-retail employees have both the Thursday and Friday off of work, giving most people a four-day weekend – perfect for shopping.
Black Friday is one of the biggest, busiest shopping days of the year. Because of the increase in spending, there’s a popular theory that the day gets its name from older accounting systems which wrote losses in red ink and profits in black. The uptick in sales on this day drive enough profits to move stores out of the red and into the black – but this is just a theory. In reality, no one knows exactly where the name came from.
One thing is clear, though: Black Friday is here to stay.
While many people still go shopping in stores on Black Friday, thanks to store-only offers and doorbuster sales, retailers noticed an interesting shift in the early 2000s.
In 2003 and 2004, online sales for retailers – particularly clothing stores – spiked on the following Monday. This could be due to people who were too busy with family or travel over the Thanksgiving weekend to get any shopping done, or maybe people needed back-up gifts after missing out on limited-time Black Friday deals in store. Or maybe employees returning to work after a long weekend wanted to carry on shopping rather than focusing on work again.
Online retailers quickly took advantage of this trend and coined a new term and holiday in 2005: Cyber Monday.
The days are very similar, but there are slight differences between the two. While both days offer deals on a huge selection of products, Black Friday is more associated with electronics and Cyber Monday is more related to retail goods, especially fashion. Additionally, Black Friday deals are both online and offline, and Cyber Monday deals are usually only available online.
It may be this online-only focus that allowed Cyber Monday to spread internationally much more quickly than Black Friday.
Black Friday comes to the UK
Ever since the early 2000s, American retailers in the UK have tried to introduce Black Friday here, but it wasn’t until 2010 that any of them saw success.
Amazon was the first retailer to start successfully promoting Black Friday deals in the UK in 2010. Asda – which you probably know is owned by the American company Walmart – also launched a successful “Walmart’s Black Friday by Asda” campaign in 2013.
Although both campaigns drew interest and profits, Black Friday didn’t really hit us until 2014 once more UK-based retailers started to run their own campaigns. And hit us, it did: In 2014, police were called in to stores across the country to deal with overcrowding, violence and traffic control.
Today, Black Friday is a slightly more peaceful affair: Shops remain busy on Black Friday, but more people are opting to shop online, especially as more retailers are sharing online-only exclusives and promoting deals online. Between in-store and online sales, Black Friday is now the biggest shopping day in the UK, with 2015 sales figures around £2 billion.
In 2016, Black Friday is 25 November, and Cyber Monday is 28 November. Of course, as more and more people are shopping on these days, companies have started releasing deals earlier and letting deals last longer, extending the holiday into Cyber Week.
How to get a good Black Friday broadband deal
By extending the shopping holiday, companies are actually giving you more time not just to shop but also to compare and really think about deals before signing on – which is very important when it comes to broadband.
Before you rush into signing up for a broadband contract, make sure it’s actually a good offer for you.
If you’re looking to switch your broadband after buying some new electronics, think about what kind of deal you’re after. With new devices being added to your home, maybe you need to up your data allowance or speeds – but by how much? If you’re just checking e-mails and Facebook, you might not need a heavy usage deal. If you’re planning on shelling out for a Netflix subscription to get through the colder months, however, you might want to opt for an unlimited package.
Did you just buy a new TV on sale? Look for broadband bundles that also include TV packages. And if it’s a smart TV, don’t forget that your TV will now be using your data and broadband, too.
Don’t be swayed by any freebies on offer – make sure you read the fine print and keep your actual usage habits in mind. Check out how long those discounts actually last for, too. Are they only good for a few months or do they last the entire contract?
Speaking of the contract, consider the cost of the full contract, not just the monthly rate. Yes, it requires some maths, but what you think is a good deal might not actually be a good deal once you add it all out.
Finally, make sure you check your current contract – if you’re still in one – to see what fees you’re required to pay if you switch providers. If these fees are too high, it may offset the savings you’d get from any Black Friday broadband deals.
Black Friday broadband deals
For 2016, here’s a list of some of the biggest Black Friday broadband deals out there – that we can tell you about for now. Some are kept secret until Friday.
BT Black Friday deals
Sign up for one of BT’s broadband Black Friday deals and you can snag discounted broadband for 12 months and either a £50 or £100 BT Reward prepaid card.
Sky Black Friday deals
Sky is offering a number of different freebies – including Lenovo laptops, LG TVs and either £75 or £100 vouchers – depending upon which broadband bundle you sign up for. Read more about the specifics of Sky’s broadband Black Friday deals here.
Plusnet Black Friday deals
Subscribers who sign up to Plusnet this Black Friday can enjoy discounted broadband for 18 months on certain broadband bundles. You can find details on Plusnet's broadband Black Friday deals here.
EE Black Friday deals
EE has two superfast fibre broadband deals on offer this Black Friday, both including calls. More information about EE's broadband Black Friday deals is in our news section.
This year, NOW TV is offering massive discounts for Black Friday with select TV passes discounted by up to 75%. If you’re looking for broadband discounts, they’ve also got a discounted broadband offer that lasts for a year.
Or compare all Black Friday broadband offers on our dedicated Black Friday broadband deals site now.