The sales which start with Black Friday are now upon us and retailers are already falling over themselves to tell you about the big offers they have in store.

How good are the deals really?

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing day sales are lucrative times for retailers but the amount we the general public are looking to spend this year has dropped significantly.

Black Friday is on 25 November this year but it’s not just a ‘one day’ event.

Amazon’s Black Friday for example starts on 18 November.

With time on your side – there’s less chance of feeling rushed into a frenzied spending spree or making impulse purchases you’ll later regret.

And with a choice of online price comparison tools at your fingertips it can be quick and easy to check who’s offering the best price if there is a laptop, gadget or appliance you want to buy.

If you’re looking on Amazon, an easy way to check if that Black Friday price really is the best deal is use its free price tracker tool.

You can also use price comparison sites like Idealo with its own free Black Friday price alert tool. It enables you to check the price history of what you want. Plus you can set a budget and get alerts if the sale price matches the one you want to pay.

The cons of Black Friday deals

To put it bluntly the whole event can be a con. Online stores as well as bricks and mortar outlets emblazon their websites and windows with the promise of discounts – but according to consumer group Which? many deals are duds.

Its been found that a whopping 99.5% of Black Friday deals are cheaper or sold at the same price at other times of the year.

While Black Friday was once the day for big discounts on tech, everyone has jumped on the sale bandwagon.

Here is how to plan for Black Friday and other sales so that you don’t fall into a trap

1. “ Beware of BNLP!” (Buy now pay later) – you will usually find that you can get a better bargain by taking one of our loans and negotiating the best price with the Merchant.

2. Avoid impulse buying by making a list and stick to it. Work out what you need or want to buy and how much you’re prepared to spend before you start shopping in the sales.

3. Do your research – Look at the price on previous days, using sites such as PriceRunner, to make sure you really are getting a good deal.

4. Think about the promotion beforehand – for example, buy one get one free – these may not always be the best offer and you could be spending more than what you intended.

5. Be careful with reviews – It’s always worth checking product reviews before choosing what to buy, but make sure you use a trusted source such as Which? to avoid being caught out by fake reviews.

6. Don’t be afraid to hit the shops – As long as you have a data connection on your smartphone you can be in Curry’s and on Amazon at the same time. Having access to websites means you can reference prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal in store.

7. Know your rights – For those buying in store, check the returns policy as these vary. Buying online gives consumers more rights: depending on the goods they buy, they usually have 14 days from the date of delivery to cancel an order and a further 14 days to return it for a refund.

8. Be vigilant of online scammers – lookout for genuine emails from retailers and only use websites that use ‘https://’ when making purchases.