It's been an interesting year so far. Now more than ever, the country could do with a spot of retail therapy. And what better way than with a few timely bargains this Black Friday? We tell you how to bag the best deals online and on the High Street.

When it comes to annual bargain bonanzas, we are still a nation in training, but with a couple of years’ experience of Black Friday under our belts, we’ve learned some lessons that will help save us all a pretty penny.  

Research and familiarise

To shop like a pro on Black Friday, you need to prep like one in the weeks prior.  Most shops will be advertising their ‘best bargains’ a fortnight in advance, and whilst everyone else is ooo-ing and ahh-ing at the savings on offer, you can be plotting your strategy.  

Do not rely on TV, radio, and billboards to inform you of the bargains; let newsletters, social-media accounts, forums and deal aggregators do the heavy lifting for you.

Some resources worth noting include:

The Which? Guide to Black Friday - this has some great tips, and is updated regularly with a list of stores taking part and some of the deals on offer.

HotUKDeals - This is a great real-time deal aggregator at any time of the year, but especially over the Black Friday Period.  Keep a keen eye on the forum for the most up-to-date discounts.

You’ll also find heaps of Twitter accounts that will be tweeting deals in the run-up to Black Friday and on the day.

Top Tip: It's also worth following the social media feeds of large retailers with diverse product ranges like Amazon UK, Argos and eBayUK. Twitter is often the most immediately updated account, but be sure to keep an eye on their other accounts as well.  

Create a shopping list

Put your shopping list together in the days running up to the event, and don’t forget to double-check right before the big day to avoid missing out on a last-minute deal.  Having a list of items that you want will avoid bloating your trolley with stuff you wouldn’t need or even like under normal circumstances.

The same rules apply for online shopping on Cyber Monday – the last thing you want is to miss out on that headline item and see ‘sold out’ at checkout, just because you spent five minutes too long being distracted by unnecessary products!

Now while your fellow shoppers are running headless chicken-style down Oxford Street, you can be smugly ticking items off your list.

Online vs offline

Do you really need to go into a physical store to get what you want? Remember, the vast majority of retailers now sell online and many will apply the same discounts on their online store as they do on the high street – sometimes even better discounts!  Don’t forget about Cyber Monday either, there is every chance that you will be able to pick up an even better bargain if you can keep your nerve until then.

Top Tip: If you do decide to shop in store, keep your smartphone handy and check there and then to see if the product you’re like the look of in-store is cheaper online.

Bear in mind that many shopping sites will be running rotating deals and sudden price drop promotions throughout the day, so if you are shopping in-store, keep an eye on these websites and you might be able to nab a last-minute bargain. These fast-moving deals are most popular with larger retailers like Amazon, eBay, Argos, so keep your focus on them if you’re looking for mega one-off savings.

Top Tip: Buddy-up with a friend on the day, this will make the whole experience a lot more fun but will also help you in your hunt for great deals.

Understand that not all deals are created equal

Electronic and fashion items are the traditional staple of the Black Friday sale, simply because these are the products in highest demand with Christmas approaching. For other high-ticket items on your radar, you might be better-off waiting for the January sales, if you’ve got the patience for it.

Also, beware of phantom bargains: these are items which look like a great deal because they’re placed alongside other ‘real’ bargains, but are actually just overstock or previously discounted items that the retailer couldn’t shift.  

I mean think about it, do you really need that London 2012 commemorative tea set?

Top Tip: If you’re unsure whether a deal is good or not, check on price comparison services like PriceRunner & Idealo to avoid paying over the odds.

Mind your manners (and your dignity)

We all saw the video footage… overzealous shoppers climbing over one another to reach a half-price TV, as though the whole thing was an episode of the Krypton Factor.  

They may have got a bargain, but it cost them their dignity!

Keep your cool, respect your fellow shoppers: no pushing, no running, no lunging; basically, behave the way you do every other day of the year.

And always remember the golden rule: no bargain is worth standing on someone’s head for.

Our final Top Tip: If you're a Workspace customer and you have a great Black Friday deal, make sure to tell us about it. We'll tweet it from our account using the hashtag #WorkspaceBlackFriday so lots of people can nab your bargain.

Read our tips if you're a retailer or business trying to make the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday from a commercial perspective.