Your essential Black Friday survival guide

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Here's what to beware of on Black Friday

How to avoid being duped by Black Friday ‘bargains’ that aren’t what they seem

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Black Friday is almost upon us. Here’s 12 top tips to help you survive - and pick up the best bargains.

1. If you are worried about safety, do your Black Friday shopping online. For the last two years fights have broken out in stores because everyone is trying to bag a bargain. If possible, don’t take the children.

2. Do your research on items on your list beforehand. Check out reviews and see if there is an alternative product that is cheaper and does the same job. Also, keep price-checking the products in the run-up to the event in case they go on special offer and work out cheaper.

3. Make a list of items you would like or want. Don’t impulse buy, as this will just make you will end up spending more money, cancelling out any amazing savings you could have made.

4. Map your shop. If there is more than one retailer you want to go to, work out which store has the items you would like the most, which store will be busiest and check to see if the opening hours will change for Black Friday.

5. Eat breakfast and set off early. Shopping can be tiring at the best of times, but Black Friday is intense. A 30-minute shopping trip can burn lots of calories, and getting hungry means tempers fraying. The police have already warned shopping outlets they could need security and fights could break out. So keep hydrated and put a bottle of water in your bag.

6. If you are doing your Black Friday shopping online, log on early. Last year a major electrical retailer had one of the highest discounted Black Friday online sales. They put a queue system in place and people were still sitting in the queue several hours later and missed out. Not just on that, but on all their other shopping too. More than 2,000 people were queuing before me. I opted out at this point.

7. Top retailers and shopping centres send insider information to AMS every day, so I am able to put out unique information listing retailers discounted events and sales (20% off days etc) before they happen.

8. Make your lists of products in the event, a price list and photos of the item/s before you leave. This is perfect when you are doing your preparation and price checking. This could sound over the top, but when you are battling with the crowds, hot and tired, this helps you focus and not get distracted.

9. To reiterate, if you are at all worried about safety, do your Black Friday shopping online. If you must go bargain-hunting in person, don’t take the children.

10. It is also handy to know that many large department stores price-match their competitors, and that includes Black Friday. Do your research and price match for an even bigger saving.

11. This year, you can expect bargains from across the board. Research your favourite websites ahead and even your favourite hairdresser. Just ask ahead and they even put up a discount just because you have highlighted it to them if you are a regular customer.

12. If you miss out on Black Friday, don’t panic. Cyber Monday, which is all online bargains, starts on Monday, 30th November.

* Tips courtesy of consumer champion Ashleigh Swan, who founded her money-saving website after being made redundant.