Though the day itself isn't until November, many are already wondering what Black Friday 2020 will look like this year.
With the spectre of coronavirus looming over public events and gatherings, there's no doubt Black Friday 2020 will be very, very different from past years.
We're answering your questions and making some major predictions on what to expect this year so you're fully prepared to snap up the best Black Friday deals on laptops, phones, Apple devices, and anything else you've been waiting to get your hands on.
When is Black Friday 2020?
This year Black Friday is on 27 November, one day after US Thanksgiving.
How many days is Black Friday?
The boundaries of when Black Friday starts and ends is no longer as well-defined as it used to be. Traditionally, the event lasted one day, whereas now, Black Friday deals begin as early as October.
In fact, we're already starting to see early Black Friday offers. Amazon has started its early Black Friday sale which lasts until 19 November, and eBay has 20% off sitewide with code POPUPOCT20 until 29 October
Should you wait for Black Friday? Is it really cheaper?
With deals rolling in earlier and earlier, you don't really need to wait until 27 November. Now that October is drawing to a close you'll start seeing more retailers launch their Black Friday pricing.
You can glean when sales from other retailers might start by following Amazon's sales schedule. The retailer's early Black Friday sale ends 19 November, which means Black Friday deals might begin in full swing a week ahead of the actual date.
It's unlikely prices will reduce further on the day, which means items might even sell out by the 27th if you choose to wait. If you see a drastic discount on that Apple Watch or Nintendo Switch console you've been eyeing, you should pick it up.
Hold retailers accountable to their prices. Many retailers, such as Currys PC World offer price-matching against other retailers whether online or in-store, and also matches discount codes. Additionally, if you've bought an item from Currys and found a cheaper price elsewhere within 7 days, Currys will refund you the difference.
Last year, Currys PC World began its Black Friday deals weeks before Black Friday (which was 29 November, 2019). The retailer promised shoppers its prices would not go any lower on Black Friday. It's likely Currys might do something similar this year. Keep track of Black Friday deals at Currys here.
We're certain retailers will continue spreading deals all through the month of November – instead of concentrating all their best deals on Black Friday itself. The added benefit of distributing deals over the month is that it also prevents frenzied crowds from gathering in stores and shopping centres.
Will Black Friday happen this year? Will coronavirus cancel Black Friday?
With social distancing in place and lockdowns being reinstated in some places, many are asking: Is Black Friday 2020 canceled?
In the US, where Black Friday typically sees large crowds gather outside shops before doors open, Walmart made headlines for deciding it will close all its stores on Thanksgiving 2020. Last year, the retail giant began Black Friday sales at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day – a day ahead of the official Black Friday date. Two other major US retailers, Target and Kohl's, also followed suit and are to close shop on Thanksgiving Day.
This year Walmart is serving Black Friday deals over the entire month of November in three separate deals events. Similarly, Target is also launching Black Friday deals all through November with new offers each week.
Black Friday will just happen differently and shoppers keen on bagging a top deal on an iPad, AirPods, or the new PS5 or Xbox Series X will need to be more prepared for changes, some of which we're predicting below...
Top 6 predictions for Black Friday 2020
1. Restricted in-store sales
In the UK, where in-store Black Friday shopping is typically less frenzied than in the US, we might see large retailers restricting in-store traffic as opposed to shutting down entirely like Walmart.
That might mean shoppers will need to queue one or two meters apart outside stores. Elderly and at-risk shoppers may have a scheduled window ahead of other shoppers, similar to the restrictions supermarkets had in place when the UK's lockdown began in March.
You'll probably be denied entry without a mask.
2. Rise of click and collect
Retailers might also encourage click and collect instead of in-store browsing and shopping. This might be include incentives like discounts or bundles.
In the same vein, contract-free delivery might be encouraged to limit people from going in-store. We expect retailers will offer codes for free delivery for orders above a certain value.
3. Slower delivery times
Let's not forget the nightmare of limited delivery slots when lockdown began. It's very likely we might see similar bottlenecks this time round with a greater volume of people shopping online.
At the start of lockdown, Amazon limited its deliveries to priority items for at-risk customers. This meant items that qualified for free next-day delivery via Amazon Prime still took several days if not weeks to arrive.
So be warned: this year, just because you've beaten the crowd and bought that last 43in OLED 4K HD TV, it doesn't mean you'll get it in time for Christmas or the holidays (which is another reason to buy early if you see a good deal ahead of Black Friday).
4. Lottery systems
It wouldn't surprise us if at-the-door hustle and bustle moved online entirely, with shoppers clamoring to sign up for limited-person slots for in-store shopping. Retailers might introduce a lottery system to allow a few people at a time into the store first.
You'll probably need to enter such lotteries by email – so additionally, be prepared for newsletters on offers and savings.
5. More exclusive deals online and better offers
Of course, the biggest change we might see is better discounts online than in-store. This may not be surprising, given that the volume of online shopping has dramatically increased since the pandemic began. A Statista study showed global e-commerce traffic ballooned by 6% from January to March 2020.
More people are now familiar and comfortable with online shopping. The pandemic may have even converted skeptics – all of which means there will be loads more people eyeing deals online than in-store and retailers are likely to respond to this.
Expect to see more "online exclusive" Black Friday prices, codes, and vouchers.
6. Slower online experience
With more offers online, you can expect incredibly high volumes of traffic on your favourite retailers' sites. Brace yourself for being pushed into virtual waiting rooms like Queue-it.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. You will just need to be more targeted with your shopping. Shop by product instead of retailer so you have other options if the site you're looking at has any difficulties.
Most retailers offer the same prices across the board once sales go into full swing – and if there is a price difference it probably won't be more than a few pence or pound here and there. Amazon for instance often offers devices like the Fitbit at just 99p less than Currys PC World.
And if you're an Apple fan, see the best Black Friday Apple deals on our sister site Macworld UK