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(Pocket-lint) - The huge Black Friday sales have become more than just fight down at the local hardware store to get a reduced-price television. It's now an event that spans most of the month of November, with much of the discounting focused on the last two weeks.

Over the past few years, the importance of Black Friday for online retailers has skyrocketed. Once positioned as "Cyber Monday", the reality is that the final Monday is almost irrelevant, with most deals having been live for at least an entire week - and often longer.

The anticipation for Black Friday has built early in 2021 and we're already seeing pre-announcements of deals: we've already heard of discounts from brands like Oppo and OnePlus offering smartphone discounts and we've heard from brands like Arlo, TCL and Xiaomi - some of which are already offering flash sales through their own websites.

Approach these deals with caution, however. Oppo is advertising that it will be offering the Oppo Find X3 Pro with a 9 per cent saving - so it will cost you £999. However, it's been available as low as £849 in the past, so the savings you might see, might not actually be the best.

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In some cases, you'll find that online prices have drifted upwards, so that when the discounts come, it looks like an even better deal.

When Black Friday was limited to just Black Friday, it was easy to wait and see what the prices were and make your decision. But as the event gets longer, making a buying decision gets more difficult - the early deals may not be the best deals that appear during the month. Over the past few years we've seen some retailers price matching as prices drop.

That's not to say that Black Friday isn't a great sales event. There will be big discounts in a number of areas and we'll be checking the prices to see whether something is actually a deal - and hunting out the best prices we can find across the likes of smartphones, headphones and televisions.

The most important thing to consider when shopping in Black Friday sales is to consider what you actually need to buy and whether you're happy with the price you're being offered. For many, waiting until the middle of November may be the best strategy.

Writing by Chris Hall. Editing by Adrian Willings.