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Black Friday has become the busiest on-line shopping period of the year in recent times. People are eager to get the best deals and they have waited all year to buy a new TV, tablet or hi-tech equipment. However, you have to be careful not to get carried away by the hype and make sure you shop smart on-line.

Do Your Research
Check in advance the actual price of items that you want to buy on Black Friday. You could end up overpaying if you are taken in by mediocre prices masquerading as 50% reductions. Confirm in advance the actual average market price of an item so that you know whether or not a bargain is too good to be true.

Set a Budget and Stick to It
This may sound simple, but it is often to practise when you are being bombarded by special offers, limited availability and “one day only” prices. Retailers are doing their best to entice you to buy as much as possible and it’s easy to impulse buy in the heat of the moment. You need to set a budget in advance and be disciplined on the day. Often shopping on-line doesn’t feel like you are spending “real money” but when your credit card bill arrives at the end of the month, you will be much happier if you have shopped within your means.

Reviews
We have entered a new era of marketing which has seen the rise of the online influencer. You have to remember that social media influencers are often given payments, discounts or free products in return for a positive review. Some on-line retailers have even confessed to posting fake reviews to gather trust from people. It is a good idea to read reviews on multiple platforms and maintain a healthy scepticism in the face of overly enthusiastic 5 star reviews from social media personalities.

On-Line Security
When shopping on-line you are going to be sharing crucial personal information including credit card details with the retailers. Therefore you have to ensure that your information will be shared securely. Make sure that the site has a “https” certificate as it means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted. Also consider using a Paypal or Revolut account. These type of services may be used to pay or send money on-line without sharing your financial information directly with the retailer and often include additional purchase protection in the event of a problem with the purchase.

Hidden Charges
Finally, you need to account for all costs when shopping on-line during the Black Friday madness. There are often additional fees like shipping costs that may not be apparent until the check-out process. For bigger electrical items such as televisions, these can be significant and you need to decide if the item is still good value once you have factored in all of the costs.

Cooling-Off Period
Change your mind about a purchase? No problem. When you buy on-line from businesses based in the E.U. you are given a cooling-off period of 14 days. This means you have the right to cancel an order for any reason within this period. You must return the item within 14 days from the day you cancelled and you may have to pay for the cost of returning it. However, if the item is faulty you do not have to pay for the cost of returning it. You should receive a refund within 14 days of cancellation or return of the item. The Cooling-off period could particularly useful when Black Friday fever turns to Black Friday regret in the aftermath of a serious spending spree!

Buy Local
Shopping on-line can be fun but don’t forget to shop local and support local businesses. Your custom can make all the difference locally to retailers in a highly competitive market.

Remember if you don’t shop in your local town, you will not have a local town to shop in.