Black Friday Deals. What is a Fair Price?

Have you started your Xmas Shopping yet? You have probably already got your knitted dinosaur toys sorted, which is why you are on our website, but as Black Friday approaches the question of what is a proper promotion and/or fair price becomes particularly important.

So what does the law consider as a fair price and does it change on Black Friday?
The law is all about clarity. It wants to ensure that when consumers are offered what looks like a good deal, it shouldn't turn out to be all smoke and mirrors.

This is particularly true when it comes to high profile events such as Black Friday or July Sale. They are great opportunities for shops to clear out old lines and/or offer some market leading prices but unfortunately it also means that some retailers use it as an opportunity to dig out some unsaleable old tat, re-package it and then re-price it as a bargain when in truth it is nothing of the sort.

The best defence that a consumer can have against unscrupulous dealing is to have thoroughly researched what is a good price for the product that you are looking to buy. That is easy enough when you are after a specific product such as a washing machine or game console but given that there is a huge choice of baby toys, and you can't be expected to know how much each of them were before Black Friday, how do you know that you are being charged a fair price. 

For a shop in the UK there are some fundamental and non negotiable parameters.

* If you show a price reduction then the product must have been sold at the higher price shown for at least 28 days. So if we reduce the price on our dinosaur toys by 20% to offer them as Xmas gift ideas then we must have been selling them at the higher price for at least 28 days. This is called price establishment and sometimes retailers are a bit naughty and increase prices for the 28 days before a major promotion so if you want to be certain you are getting a bargain best to check prices 60 days and 28 days before a major promotional date.

* The shop must have had the product on sale at the higher price. So if the shop shows a saving but they did not have any stock during the previous 28 days, or did not have the product on the shelf for customers to buy then they cannot use the higher price in a "Was/Now" scenario. We could not say Look! Half Price Xmas Decorations unless they had been in stock and available to order for the month before the promotion starts. 

* A retailer can't show a reduction for longer than the time they charged the original price. Tescos got caught out on this when they sold Strawberries at £1.99 as being Half Price all through July/August when they had only sold them at the full retail of £3.99 for just a month. Our dinosaur rattles have been sold at £9.99 for well over a year so we could then offer them at £4.98 and claim a half price sale for the next 6 months. But the Wooden Bus toy has only just arrived so if we decided to offer it as a Half Price deal for Black Friday we could only sell it as Half Price for 28 days. 

* If a retailer screams it has a Half Price Sale then at least 10% of the items in the shop must be at half price. You cannot claim to have a half price sale unless a significant number of lines have actually been reduced to half price. I don't think anyone expects a shop to count exactly how many lines they stock and how many are reduced but they should make sure that its not just half a dozen lines in the corner.

* You can't say RRP £10, our price £5. The retailer must have actually sold it at the higher price in order to make the price comparison. If you bought our Humpty Dumpty Toy as a half price promotion only to find that we had just made up the higher price and had never actually sold it at the made up price you would be justifiably annoyed. We wouldn't do something like that but its something to look out for when you are shopping Black Friday Sales.

* If something is described as an introductory offer you must then increase the price after a reasonable amount of time, it can't continually be sold at the lower price. Our new Organic Babysuits and their coordinating hats and toys arrive this week so we could offer them at a discount in to December but after that they would need to be increased or we are effectively just making up the discount!

* Limited availability should be just that. Shops should state the date when the offer will end, or truly have limited stock. If they then extend the date they must make it very clear that the promotion has been extended.

This is obviously a very vague overview of the law relating to pricing and hopefully has give you an idea of what is or is not ok, but if you want any more information then you can click here for a full article about the law of pricing

And as a consumer if you think you've been sold a pig in a poke (where does that expression come from?!) then please contact your local Trading Standards

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