You've probably started hearing a lot more about Black Friday over the last few years, with the American import having been brought over to the UK by Amazon back in 2010. It's one of the biggest shopping days of the year, giving you a chance to stock up on Christmas gifts and treats for yourself at discount prices.

While the event still isn't quite as big as it is in the US, it has been gaining momentum in Britain, with millions of people looking for bargains both in person and online. But what exactly is Black Friday and how can you be sure to get the best deals?

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is the Friday after the US celebration of Thanksgiving, which is always held on the fourth Thursday of November. Traditionally, the day features a lot of offers and discounts from retailers on everything from clothing to large electrical items. In the US, it can mean huge queues of people waiting to get into shops, something that has started happening more in the UK.

However, Black Friday has now gone beyond the original 24 hours of discounts, with many retailers running week-long events to allow shoppers to get the best deals on purchases. This means that you don't necessarily have to wait until Friday to get all your shopping done.

What should you look out for?

While some deals on and around Black Friday are great, others may not be as good as they seem. Some retailers may have better offers on before the day, knowing that the idea of a Black Friday discount will entice people to buy.

This is why you should be sure to look at the RRP of items you're interested in and do price comparisons to see what the best price is. You might actually find that you can buy what you want for cheaper from somewhere not running a Black Friday offer.

It is also worth having a look for early bargains, as you stand a better chance of getting what you want, rather than risking it going out of stock. You'll probably receive it earlier too, as ordering on Black Friday means retailers will have a huge number of sales to work through.

How should you shop?

With Black Friday getting increasingly busier every year, the crowds in stores also get bigger. This can mean you need to fight through masses of people in order to get to the shop you want, let alone to pick up the product you're after. On top of this, you'll then end up queuing for ages, which isn't ideal if you're shopping on your lunch break.

Instead, you stand a better chance of finding the best bargain while also avoiding the crowds if you shop online. This will allow you to compare prices and discounts across different retailers, check past offers to see if you are actually getting as good a deal as you think, and ensure you get what you want to avoid disappointment.

Many retailers have extra discounts for online shoppers too, so be sure to look for vouchers or codes that allow you to get extra money off or perks like free postage. Have a look before the day to see if there are any really good online Black Friday deals, such as extra money off at certain times, hidden products or staged discounts. This will ensure you get the best deals and save the most money all from the comfort of your own home.

Things to remember

However you shop this Black Friday, there are a few things you should remember, including

● Make a list of what you actually need to buy so you don't end up purchasing things you don't require just because the deal is good.

● Stick to a budget to avoid overspending and putting yourself in a difficult financial situation.

● Don't buy something if you're sure you can get a better price or if you aren't convinced by the deal.

● Keep all of your receipts so you can return anything that isn't suitable or if you find it cheaper somewhere else within the return period.

● Remember that retail sites may be running a little slow on the day so allow extra time for shopping.