Wednesday 18 September 2019

Adrian Weckler: 'Deep discounts on Black Friday... or are stores just pushing old stock?'

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Watch
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Watch
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Wondering about genuine tech deals for Black Friday?

While retailers may be blinding you with offers that sound amazing, there are few significant deals on popular premium products that most people actually want.

Earlier this week, the UK consumer organisation Which? published research showing that 87pc of 'Black Friday' sale items were actually cheaper at other times of the year.

Think of Black Friday offers like a supermarket coupon book: most of the deep discounts are for brands or products that you wouldn't normally consider buying. So you'll see lots of Bluetooth speakers, low-powered laptops, no-name tablets and odd kitchen gadgets.

What you won't see is any discount on premium gadgets. Still, it's not a complete bust - there are some genuine discounts. We've scoured Irish retailers to find a few in the context of stuff most people say they're considering buying. (We've excluded TVs because it's simply impossible to know what are genuine reductions.)

It's not a given that just because a retailer has a discount on one type of electronic product that it applies one on another. For example, Harvey Norman and PC World are among the retailers to offer the basic 13-inch MacBook Pro for €190 off Apple's RRP price. But they don't join Argos and Power City in knocking €20 off the 2018 9.7-inch iPad.

Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphone
Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphone
iPad 2018
Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones
Microsoft Surface Pro 6

In some cases, there are genuine discounts being applied straight from the manufacturer. This is very common with cameras.

It's much harder to assess the validity of sales with products that are reaching their natural end of life. This is a common thing in tech, especially on products such as TVs, laptops and cameras. For example, Fujifilm is currently selling its 2016 camera, the X-T2, for half (€850) of what it originally cost when it was launched. It's been a gradual reduction, though: it was on sale for €1,100 for several months this year. The company isn't making the model any more, meaning that it's just trying to get rid of whatever stock is there. Does that constitute a special Black Friday 'sale'? Possibly: the proof will be whether Fujifilm raises the price again after the current promotion period is finished. But I doubt that it will.

The same can be said for Canon, which is now selling its old 6D 'full frame' starter DSLR for €999.

This is not to say that either product isn't worth getting. I own the 6D (which I bought a few years back) and have used the X-T2: they're both excellent products.

I'm merely pointing out that it's not necessarily some sort of mad giveaway that the retailers (and manufacturers) say it is. Their main motive is to get rid of the stock. It's not in their interest to have cheaper, older models lying around as it may make potential customers think that the newer models are priced at a level that's unreasonable.

The most egregious example of this is with televisions. The biggest discounts you see are almost certainly on the oldest TV sets that would attract those prices naturally anyway: very few will 'return' to a higher price next month, meaning it's not a time-limited sale.

Irish Independent

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