Is Black Friday Still Relevant in the New Normal?

By Moira McCormick on September 17, 2020

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The good news is that Black Friday 2020 has definitely not been cancelled but so much in the retail sector has been impacted by Coronavirus and the uncertain economic situation that only time will tell whether this year's Black Friday will still be as relevant and provide canny shoppers with the deals and savings they have come to expect at this time of year.

What is certain is that, like everything else in the new normal, it will be somewhat different this year. It's unlikely we'll see the massed throngs of bargain hunters outside stores - unless, of course, shoppers choose to completely ignore the social distancing rules - well, that MIGHT happen I suppose! What is more likely for this year’s Black Friday will be the continued growth of online shopping which has already blossomed this year.

Generally speaking, Black Friday deals are real, although there are two kinds of deals: the first has been pre-agreed between brands and retailers; the other is sudden price drops, whether that’s an algorithm calculating the best price to attract purchasers (as with Amazon) or just the big names price-matching one another, or pushing the price down further to emerge as the winner.

And yes, amongst the most brilliant bargains, as per normal, will be found the usual mixture of discounted end-of-line stock and those unloved items that were never going to sell at any but rock-bottom prices. 

 

What to expect from Black Friday 2020?

This year Black Friday falls on Friday 27 November followed by Cyber Monday on 30 November. The savings will probably start earlier than Black Friday itself and most likely stretch beyond Cyber Monday - as in previous years. This year it’s obvious that online shopping will be even more important. According to Adobe Analytics, 2019 saw an almost 20% increase in traffic for those searching for great deals on tech products and Christmas gifts and the signs are that for this year online purchases will grow exponentially.

Amazon was the pioneer in bringing the concept of Black Friday to the attention of UK customers and this year, Amazon Prime Day has been pushed back from July to the autumn. This move could radically affect deals that are on offer during the Black Friday period. In the States, Best Buy has confirmed they will be spreading out the deals this year, rather than just restricting them to a single weekend period, and it's expected other retailers will follow their lead. This strategy may well be pursued by retailers in the UK.

For the moment, many retailers are keeping their cards close to their chests: some of the big hitters of UK retail like Amazon, Argos, John Lewis and Currys have still to confirm their participation for Black Friday 2020, although it's a pretty safe bet that they too will be slashing their prices come November. All the predictions are that we should still see savings across a wide range of categories from tech, fashion and beauty, toys and household goods during this year’s Black Friday period.

Shoppers will be advised by consumer champions to buy at retailers with price promises (we covered this in a previous episode of eCommerce Matters), which ensures they can get a refund if an item drops in value in the weeks following a purchase. Retailers can offer additional savings with free delivery or click and collect services for those customers who still want to venture out, or allow customers to sign up to newsletters and emails to get early access to offers and VIP slots.

This year, with Coronavirus causing retailers to be less specific in their timing for unleashing deals, it could however be more difficult to spot when a new, unmissable deal emerges.

 

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What Should Retailers Do for Black Friday 2020?

The “big boys” of retail will be throwing more resources than ever into their ecommerce efforts, which inevitably means greater competition for smaller and independent retailers.

Across the pond, Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette believes the success of Black Friday 2020 hinges on retailers' offering a longer holiday shopping period and embracing digital in a big way.

"We expect it to start in full force after Halloween," he said. "We have a very strong game plan about how we're going to keep this trend of digital going. That's going to be huge for this holiday season."

Most experts believe that retailers need to be more targeted and creative in their approach to deals to get customers onboard this year. It's about "figuring out how to reach the customer in the most valuable segments and being creative in how you reach them," Shenck from BCG said. "This might include ramping up influencer campaigns, advertising more on social media, or generating awareness earlier in the year."

This year retailers could try offering bundles of offers online to replicate the bricks and mortar experience of being tempted to buy more than you had originally planned.

Dave Marcotte, a Senior Vice President at Kantar Retail said "For years, Black Friday was a no-brainer, you just took whatever you thought was going to be a hot item and you put it at a hot price and waited for the shopper to show up … You can't do that this year; you have to really think through the valuation equation."

Value can be achieved by offering exclusivity, better credit terms, free delivery and excellent customer support.

But, what it really all boils down to, as in previous years, is offering the biggest and most in-demand bargains.

 

Black Friday in the new normal

The pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way we shop and this year’s Black Friday may be a little different to previous years. Although the consensus is that Black Friday 2020 will continue last year's trend of offering decent discounts on the big-ticket items that consumers have come to expect, the economic situation and depleted spending power of the average shopper may have an impact.

For years, analysts have been predicting the death of Black Friday as foot traffic to stores has slowed plus year-round deals and the growth of online shopping has taken a certain amount of pressure off the day itself. Retailers had been shifting towards digital selling and year-round deals even before 2020; Covid 19 has just accelerated that trend. We cover how retailers should approach this holiday season in an upcoming with Cloud.IQ.

In 2020 Black Friday will probably turn into a whole month (or longer) of savings if the consumer is clued up (and keen) enough to know just where and when to shop. For the savvy shopper it will, for now, remain relevant, the best time of the year to shop and save a heap of money.

 

Resources

https://searchspring.com/black-friday-cyber-monday-ecommerce-strategy/

https://www.techradar.com/news/black-friday-deals-2019

https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/when-black-friday-2020-uk-22535181

https://www.businessinsider.com/what-does-black-friday-look-like-in-the-us-2020-7?r=US&IR=T

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