Today, Black Friday ushers more than the American holiday shopping season, it truly has become a global phenomenon1. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its inherent restrictions, this Black Friday could be very different from any other year. Here are three ways Black Friday 2020 trends could be different, and one which will remain the same:
Sales are going to be primarily online
Don’t expect long lines around physical stores this year with in-store shopping being extremely discouraged or outright restricted in some countries. Instead, expect most discounts and sales to move online. After all, many consumers realized that shopping online isn’t so bad after all:
- Last year’s Black Friday saw more online shoppers than in-store — 142.2 million online vs. 124 million in-store2
- 65% of shoppers will purchase products online than in-store to avoid crowds in 20203
To lure shoppers, heavy content marketing activities from retailers and brands are expected. In place of inserts and catalogs, they will heavily leverage email, social media and the online relationships many have been nurturing since the start of the year.
Rollouts will be early and have an extended run
Black Friday has started earlier for many stores this year with Amazon Prime Day moving from mid-July to October 13 and 14. Other stores (e.g. Macy’s, Target, Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc.) are also taking advantage of the online shopping diaspora and started offering sales weeks before November 27th with many running “Black Friday” deals for the whole month.4
On the brick-and-mortar side, many stores used to blur the Black Friday and Thanksgiving lines by opening in the afternoon or evening. However, since REI, Costco, and Nordstrom chose to close during Thanksgiving to allow their employees to spend time with their families,5 a movement has started and has gained popularity this year. Giant retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Best Buy have announced that they’ll be joining the employees-first on Thanksgiving movement.6 This can further shift consumer shopping towards e-commerce, especially for anyone ready to look at deals online on Thursday.
BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) and curbside pickup will be the standard
Due to the pandemic, the number of stores offering the services increased significantly and so did the number of shoppers that use them. Although in one study, 77% of shoppers still prefer for their purchases to be delivered directly to their homes,7 in another, 50% of consumers who plan to shop during the holiday sales said they will use curbside pickup more than they did in 2019.8
Because the pandemic has put a strain on the mail and delivery systems resulting in slow shipping times, stores that have physical locations where shoppers can drop by and pick up items may have an advantage over strictly online stores that have to rely on shipping companies to deliver items to customers.
Content is still king on Black Friday 2020
Black Friday 2020 may not look like any Black Fridays in the past, but people’s eagerness to shop will drive the brands’ and retailers’ incentive to adapt to these trying times. However, the shift from in-store to online shopping as well as the early and prolonged deals may give shoppers fatigue. With an extended sales period, it’s up to brands to keep shoppers engaged with fresh content and deals.
Therefore, it’s a must for brands to keep the shoppers interested and engaged with exciting product content. Furthermore, Black Friday is also a great opportunity for both retailers and brands that have gone D2C to use analytics to gain insight based on high amounts of consumer data. This will help them identify the right content to entice shoppers, offer better deals in the future and hopefully better prepare for a post-pandemic world.