What can consumers expect from Black Friday in 2020?

What can consumers expect from Black Friday in 2020?

Black Friday won't be the same this year, but neither businesses nor consumers were going to let it disappear in 2020.

Over the last decade, we've all become familiar with the Black Friday scenes in late November. Early openings, queues outside stores, customers pouring through shop doors to lay their hands on best bargains first, the odd unfortunate scuffle over a 70-inch television.

With most of the UK and significant portions of the world under restrictions, high streets empty, and superstore doors bolted shut, it looked like Black Friday would be another victim of 2020. But just as many businesses have adapted to the circumstances, this key sales date has too.  

A year of challenge and upheaval has seen businesses pivot to survive, and the same is true for this vital promotional season. While lockdowns have closed the high street for a critical part of this year's run-up to Christmas, businesses and consumers need this tent pole event.

So what can you expect from Black Friday in 2020?

1. It's far more than a Friday

You've no doubt seen that Black Friday is more of a brand this year. Traditionally, brick-and-mortar stores would start their deals at midnight on Thanksgiving night, driving up interest for specific discounts. This year, sales have extended throughout November under the banner. Retailers have taken the lead from other sectors, like travel, by leveraging price promises and price matching. This enables them to keep the focus on the traditional Black Friday weekend, but draw in custom with extended sales windows.  

2. It's finally blurred with Cyber Monday

As sure as there was a Black Friday in late November, a Cyber Monday was waiting on the other side of the weekend. Cyber Monday developed in the mid-2000s when retailers noticed a sales spike in online sales as American workers returned to the high-speed internet of their office after Thanksgiving weekend. Physical discounts on Friday and online offers on Monday were kept separate by a fine line that has increasingly blurred over the years.

This year, retailers face few options for physical sales so you can expect to see many of the tactics that were kept in reserve for the Monday promotions to come into play early. Lightning and flash deals encourage constant web traffic to an online store and lure shoppers with headline discounts.

3. It may be worse for the environment

There will be less footfall this Black Friday, that's undeniable. But don't expect the weekend to set a new environmental record. The sharp increase in online orders may well cause a spike in vehicle emissions and excess packaging. If you want to help mitigate this knock-on, consider your delivery options as you dip into the offers next weekend. You may be able to choose slower or bulk delivery that can help mitigate this. Check retailer websites for their environmental credentials and commitment to sustainability.

4. You need to be more careful of fraud than ever

With an increase in online sales, there's a greater risk of fraud. Consumers looking for a bargain should be aware that there is a very high chance of them encountering a scam. Fraudsters have long exploited the Christmas shopping period, but the pandemic has provided them cover and opportunity for most of the year: Fraud in the first half of 2020 was up 66%.

At this time of year, consumers should be particularly wary when using online auctions and marketplaces. Purchase scams are active, where criminals take money in advance for goods that never arrive. Over £27m was lost to scams like this between January and June. Keep an eye on our blog for the scams you should keep an eye out for, and always remember the Take Five campaign.

5. It's not all about the big-ticket items

Black Friday quickly established itself as the best time of year to buy big items, beating discounts offered by more extended, traditional sales. We won't be seeing multi-screen TVs and hot tubs being wheeled from crowded shops this year. But with the shift to online and the significant opportunity this presents in a depressed Christmas trading period, Black Friday will be offering a more comprehensive range of discounts than ever before.  

6. Change is here to stay

Research throughout 2020 has suggested a rapid change in consumer habits, and we should all expect those changes in behaviour to stay. We're all going to increase our online shopping. As that soars, with many more people working remotely, home deliveries will grow with it. We may not have to think about delivery drone traffic just yet, but easy subscription and reordering schemes have become more prevalent, particularly as a sneakily handy benefit of voice assistants. Expect this to grow just as promotions in late November adapt to changed customer behaviour.  

Wherever you're shopping this year, stay safe.

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