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It’s amazing how quickly a ‘tradition’ can be invented, especially when there’s money to be made. Until 2013, Black Friday was something that only happened in the US – a bargain-hunting bonanza on the day after Thanksgiving when stores dropped their prices for 24 hours to get goods moving out and money rolling in in the run-up to Christmas.

In 2013, Asda and US parent company Walmart brought the concept to the UK. Trade magazine Retail World predicted that it would never catch on, saying it was ‘simply an Americanism, which doesn’t translate well’. How wrong can you be: the following year Black Friday had well and truly arrived, with police called to stores around the country as fights broke out among customers wrestling over everything from TV sets to handbags.

How much do shoppers spend?

Black Friday is now the UK’s biggest shopping day: in 2015, bargain-hunters spent £1.1 billion online and in shops in 24 hours. Currys PC World took five online orders per second at its peak, with 30 TV sets sold every minute. Amazon sold 86 items per second, with 7.4 million items in total. And there’s no sign of things slowing down. It’s predicted that shoppers will spend £1.9 billion this Black Friday weekend, with more than 27 per cent of adults expected to make a purchase.

This year, many canny retailers are spreading the joy – and profits – over an even longer period. Amazon began its deals on 14th November this year, 12 days before Black Friday, and is posting new offers every hour until midnight on 25th November. Currys PC World also launched an early sale this year – though it’s also holding a one-day event online and in-store on the day itself. Argos, meanwhile, is having a 13-day sales bonanza until 30th November – which neatly ties in with payday for many.

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Cyber Monday – the new Black Friday?

The term Cyber Monday was coined when retailers noticed that customers kept on spending after Black Friday, with online sales peaking the following Monday. They began offering special online-only deals on that day to attract even more custom. Today, it’s the year’s biggest shopping day in the US. Black Friday is still bigger in the UK, though customers spent £968 million on Cyber Monday in 2015. Deals often drop at midnight, so stay up late to get the best early pickings.

Argos and Currys, along with other high-street retailers such as John Lewis, are guiding customers away from the mayhem of the stores and towards the internet for Black Friday as well as Cyber Monday this year. John Lewis will be opening for online business at midnight on Thursday 24th November, with the sale continuing over the weekend as more offers are launched in response to competitors’ promotions. Trade experts predict that, as usual, most deals will be in fashion and electronics.

How to grab a bargain

So how can you make sure you get what you really want for the best possible price?

Do some research 

The websites of reputable companies like Currys PC World have detailed product guides – have a look and bookmark the things you’re interested in. This will save you time when the deals go live. It’s worth bearing in mind when you’re browsing that the very latest models are unlikely to be going for a song.

Sign up for deals

Websites such as www.moneysavingexpert.com and www.lovethesales.com can guide you to great deals. It can also pay to follow brands you like on Facebook and Twitter or sign up for their email newsletters, as you may get special deals. Currys’ website also allows you to register interest, so the latest deals will come straight to your inbox.

Get in early

Store websites will be busy, so get up early for the best bargains – Argos says its quietest time is between 3am and 4am. And to get an early start with Amazon deals, shoppers might consider joining Amazon Prime for the duration of the sale. Prime members get access to deals 30 minutes early and you can have 30 days’ free trial before you need to pay the annual £79 fee. Just don’t forget to cancel at the end of the month or you’ll be charged the full amount.

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Azimo’s fee-free weekend

In celebration of Black Friday weekend, we’re making every transfer fee-free. That means you can send money anywhere in the world and we won’t charge you a penny. Not a dime. Zip. Zilch. Nada. The offer ends at midnight 28th November, so head to our homepage from midnight tonight and start saving!

Feature image: IR Stone/Shutterstock.com