Taking on Black Friday in a cost-of-living crisis

5 min read
November 08, 2023

While many people will be counting down the days till Black Friday, there are plenty of others filled with dread. 

If you’re trying to save there is nothing worse than constant prompts to spend and apparently irresistible offers. 

The most important shopping tip for Black Friday is remembering that it isn’t about buying a lot of things, but saving on items you really want. But this can be really hard when you’re being bombarded with offers.

We’re here to support you with some guidance on marketing tricks and traps – once you’ve seen through them, they can become a little bit easier to resist. 

Stay on track

To avoid overspending, make and stick to a list of items you want to save on. Having a list will help you only buy the things you actually need.  

You could save products on wish lists and use price comparison sites like PriceRunner to make sure you’re getting the best deal available. 

Beware of aggressive marketing 

We have never been subjected to such a flood of products, and there is still so little regulation on the kind of psychological warfare that retailers can wage on our overstimulated minds.

With automated emails and AI algorithms, we can end up being targeted thousands of times a day, with adverts that have been tailored specifically to tempt us. 

The first step you can take to help with this is unsubscribing from marketing texts and emails. By cutting out the constant prompts to go onto the shopping site in the first place, you’ll be freeing yourself from these pressures. Apps like Cleanfox can help you easily opt-out and clean your email inbox. 

Social Media has a real impact on people’s compulsive purchases. Muting the businesses you follow on social media can help you be less tempted to purchase. However, as businesses rely a lot on ads on those platforms, you may not be able to fully close the door to exposure. 

So another simple way to protect yourself is to reduce your social media during those times. Most smartphones now have settings that allow you to control the time spent on specific apps on a daily basis. 

One-click checkouts: double-edged sword

Online shopping has been made so accessible, it’s easy to find yourself scrolling through an online shop before you even know what’s happened. 

One-click checkout on Amazon, Apple Pay, and Google Pay saves your credit card information which means that there is almost no friction in the final step of a purchase. 

To prevent yourself from overindulging in online spending, set limits on how much scrolling you can do – either with a timer or with an app. 

It’s also a good idea to stop saving your credit card information. This will keep your impulse for instant gratification in check by creating more friction between you and the purchase.

Don’t give in to scarcity panic 

Scarcity panic is a well-known psychological technique that wreaks havoc on our cognition and decision-making – in which we desire something simply because it is running out. 

Time-limited offers, flash sales, and stock countdowns prey on our scarcity panic by putting us under pressure to buy quickly. When you are told ‘there are only 10 tickets left at this price’ or ‘there are five other people looking at this item’ you may rush to purchase before properly thinking it through. 

It’s a tough one to resist but the best tactic for resisting this trigger is to practise some mindfulness. Before you add the item to your cart, or pay for it, take a second to review the item and ask yourself, “Do I really want this?”. You can leave your items for a couple of hours and see if you’re still thinking about them – you may even find the company has given an extra discount code after you abandoned the purchase.

With some time and space away from the shopping platform, you may be surprised how many items you end up putting back or not purchasing at all. 

Dodge financial ploys and bargain traps

As we explored in our article on Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL), the last five years have seen new kinds of financing emerge as people try to get their finances to keep up with their shopping habits. Companies like Klarna or Afterpay allow you to split your purchases in multiple payments but also can have a bad effect on your finances.  

Along with BNPL, there are all kinds of other ‘bargain traps’ designed to make things seem more affordable than they are, and incentivise us to over-consume and buy more things than we actually want:  

  • Multi-buy offers, discounts, and free shipping. These apparent discounts usually only apply after you’ve spent a certain amount. It becomes cheaper to buy something else than not, thus forcing you to buy more than you intended. 
  • ‘Free returns’ encourage you to buy a product even if you’re not sure if you even want or will keep the item. In the case of Shein, they will even issue a refund and let you keep the clothes – that is how profitable their business model is. 

There is a mantra that may be helpful in the face of all this: Buy better, once. 

When things cost so little we are bound to see our items as more disposable and may end up buying even more stuff. It may sound counter-intuitive, but spending a little more on something you really want and will treasure means you are less likely to buy again in the future. Buying higher quality items means they will last longer, or can be re-sold on second-hand sites like eBay or Vinted. 


For more advice on shifting your mindset into a different mode, and understanding the tactics and techniques used to shape our shopping habits, see our series on ‘consumer trends and tactics’. 

If you have any thoughts on this topic, or any other consumer issues you would like us to cover, feel free to get in touch with us at support@resolver.co.uk.

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