Though we're a few months away, it's likely many are already wondering what Black Friday 2020 will look like ahead of holiday buying (or maybe just in anticipation for this very weird year to end).
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 that when the time comes, 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 (thoroughly washed) 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 to roll in as early as October.
It is likely shoppers might even see some overlap with Amazon's Prime Day which has been pushed to October this year. Like Black Friday, Prime Day began as a single day event but expanded to nearly a week long last year. Here's what you need to know about Amazon Prime.
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, but you should wait until Black Friday season when products are actually cheaper. In other words, 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 offering price-matching up to 7 days after purchase if you are to spot a lower price elsewhere. If you need to, call up customer service and request better pricing if the rate suddenly becomes cheaper overnight.
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. We might start seeing more of this.
We're certain retailers will continue spreading deals all through the month of November, and possibly earlier – 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?
With social distancing in place, especially with the possibility of a second wave of the virus, many are asking: Is Black Friday 2020 cancelled?
In the US, where the 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.
Walmart will confirm its Black Friday 2020 hours at a later date, as promised in an official statement last month. Two other major US retailers, Target and Kohl's, also followed suit and are to close shop on Thanksgiving Day.
But that doesn't mean Black Friday won't happen. It will just happen differently and shoppers keen on bagging a top deal on an iPad, AirPods, or a PS4 this Black Friday 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, 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 head 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 a pounds here and there. Amazon for instance often offers devices like the Fitbit at just 99p less than Currys PC World.
We'll be keeping an eye on the best Black Friday 2020 offers as well, so be sure to watch this space.