Which? found the cost of popular appliances can vary by more than 50 per cent.

The watchdog tracked the price of 32 items over a year.

A Vax vacuum cleaner at AO.com was priced at £299 at its highest point, and 54 per cent lower at £139.

An LG telly at Currys PC World varied in price by 48 per cent from £328 to a maximum of £629 across the year.

And a Samsung fridge-freezer at John Lewis and a Brother printer at Amazon both varied in price by 43 per cent.

Which? said consumers could expect price reductions during sale periods, including the annual Black Friday event, but “considerable” variations in price made it difficult for people to know when to buy.

AO.com, Currys PC World and John Lewis all also offer price-matching schemes, although these all have slightly different rules about what is included.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said yesterday: “Whilst we expect price variation across the year, our research shows that shoppers are often faced with wildly fluctuating prices and not necessarily during traditional sales periods.

"This can make it difficult for people to assess when a bargain is really a bargain.

“So we advise taking retailer hype with a pinch of salt, not feeling pressured by time- ­limited sales and doing your research before buying.”

John Lewis said: “We’re not surprised by these findings as when competitors run promotions we lower prices to match.

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