Money expert warns against buying during Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday

As we creep from Autumn to Winter, sales like Amazon’s Prime Day and Black Friday will start to crop up, with the overarching message being spend, spend, spend.

While these days can be a good way to get items at a discount, they can also be a good way to land yourself in debt that takes months if not years to get out of.

National Debtline notes that they see a slump in calls throughout December, followed by a sharp uptick in calls in January, suggesting that people overspend on credit in the run-up to Christmas before feeling the after-effects post New Year.

Money writer Charlotte Burns has warned consumers that sale days over the next few months will feed into this massively, with the pandemic influencing our buying habits to make us buy things we don’t need.

The award-winning money blogger tells Metro.co.uk: ‘The pandemic has impacted a lot of our mental health.

‘To “self soothe” we look for ways to give ourselves a little dopamine hit. Sometimes that’s with exercise, booze, or eating ice-cream – but it’s very common that people will compulsively shop to make themselves feel better.

‘There has been increased online shopping since the pandemic began, and some of that will be because we’re hitting the high-street less. However, a lot of that will be people who are bored and stressed spending money they don’t have.’

Usabilla by SurveyMonkey found recently that 54% of people they spoke to in the UK have been doing more online shopping during the pandemic compared to before. This comes alongside predictions that almost three million people may be made unemployed by Christmas as the government’s furlough scheme comes to an end.

With that in mind, Charlotte urges people to use caution when thinking about whether they really need what they’re buying – and whether they’re getting as good a deal as they think.

Using Prime Day as an example, she says: ‘Prime Day is Amazon’s big promotion where for two days they promise big reductions on popular items. From my experience, there will be a product or two which is impressively reduced (but they tend to sell out quickly) and you’re left with 10 – 20% off items.

‘This is fine, but you can probably bag that kind of reduction later on in the year – there’s no need to panic buy for most of it.’

She adds: ‘If there is something you were definitely going to buy and it’s a bargain – go for it. But if you don’t need anything, it’s very dangerous to browse deals because it’s likely you’ll end up with something you don’t need.

‘2020 is a rough year for many of us, and it’s probably not going to get easier, as more and more people are impacted financially by the pandemic. Now is not the time to be lining Amazon’s pockets.’

Charlotte advises instead buying those items we need from smaller and local business who may have been negatively effected by Covid-19. Essentially, shopping wiser rather than buying items simply because they appear to be a good deal (which isn’t always the case).

Even websites that collate the best deals for events like this have added warnings to their pages.

For example MoneySavingExpert show an alert on their Prime Day page that reads: ‘Don’t allow yourself to be taken in by the hype and sucked into buying something you don’t need or can’t afford. Always do your own price comparisons to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible.’

In terms of what we can do to steer clear of these impulse purchases, Charlotte says: ‘When it comes to shopping, recognise that you might be buying because it’s making you feel better, not because you really need the product.

‘There are lots of people who think that because it’s been a hard year, they need to spend more money at Christmas than they usually would to make up for it. It would be a mistake to start 2021 out with debt when the UK is so unstable.’

Consumer finance expert Charlotte also adds that, more generally, everybody should use benefit checkers to see if they’re entitled to any extra assistance at the money, as even those who are working may be eligible.

She concludes: ‘If you’re doing OK now, I’d recommend that you don’t take it for granted and get yourself a rainy day fund (aim for one to three months wages) so you’re covered if you were to hit harder times in 2021.’

While smart speakers and air fryers might seem like they’ll make your life easier, nothing will make it harder than debt, and planning for an uncertain future should take priority over material displays at the moment (no matter how tempting they may be).

If you want more tips and tricks on saving money, as well as chat about cash and alerts on deals and discounts, join our Facebook Group, Money Pot.

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Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@metro.co.uk.

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