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How will COVID-19 impact Black Friday 2020?

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Will Black Friday 2020 be as lucrative an opportunity for brands and retailers as it has been in previous years?  

This holiday shopping season will be unlike any we’ve seen before, thanks to the global and all-encompassing impact of COVID-19.

All eyes are therefore on the Western world’s most celebrated shopping day, Black Friday, which takes place on Friday 27th November. 

What will happen? Will Black Friday 2020 transform in some way? 

Will Black Friday continue to be the big sales bonanza it’s been in recent years? And, if so, how should your organisation prepare for it?

Black Friday 2020 Example 1
How will COVID-19 impact the annual Black Friday festival of shopping? – Image source:

Black Friday has changed

Black Friday was once infamous for attracting frenzied crowds of consumers that would pile into department stores and brawl with one another to secure wide-screen TVs and other electricals at incredibly low prices.

Fortunately, those unsavoury scenes are – for a number of reasons – largely a thing of the past.

Black Friday has changed, with the most significant influence in its transformation being the rise of online shopping in recent years.

Black Friday physical shopping footfall increased – unexpectedly – by 5.6% in 2019[1] but social distancing will probably have an impact on how many people visit physical stores this year. On the other hand, it’s highly likely that Black Friday online shopping figures will rise significantly in line with the skyrocketing popularity that eCommerce has experienced during lockdown[2].

That said, there will still be opportunities to draw people into physical stores on Black Friday, especially in countries with less stringent social distancing measures in place. Special Black Friday in-store events and deals could tempt shoppers into stores. Amazon, for instance, has used yoga classes to attract shoppers to its pop-up Black Friday stores[3].

As such, there will be real opportunities on Black Friday 2020 for brands and retailers to create great omnichannel experiences that leverage digital activations to elevate physical shopping.

Black Friday 2020 will be more than just a day

For years now, the weeks leading into Black Friday have been as important as the day itself.

And this year – in this uniquely disrupted year – analysts like Meredith anticipated consumers would start shopping for the holidays much earlier than ever before[4].

Brands and retailers should already have been adapting to this new consumer behaviour by offering early holiday season shoppers the options they’re looking for, whether that be online or in-store.

With this in mind, has your organisation been planning out its deals? And will it be taking advantage of Amazon opportunities like ‘Lightning Deals’ in and around likely spikes in shopping traffic?

Read this blog article for expert tips on how brands in particular can still use Amazon deal options to stand out from the competition in the run up to Black Friday 2020.

Black Friday 2020 Example 2
Amazon is again likely to be a big winner on Black Friday – but what strategies will you use to take advantage of the traffic pouring through the platform? – Image source: Evening Standard

Consumer sentiment remains positive

While some people have sadly been hit hard in the pocket by the financial implications of COVID-19, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) reports that disposable income is not a concern for many consumers and that consumer sentiment remains resilient[5].

This is of course positive news, both for people’s wellbeing and for brands and retailers.

It also means that people will have readily available cash to spend, perhaps in the hope of making Christmas and the holiday season as enjoyable as possible to make up for what has been a fairly miserable 2020 so far.

Remember, they call it ‘retail therapy’ for a good reason.

And it’s likely that people with the means to do so will want to shower loved ones with gifts during this holiday season in an effort to spread some joy and happiness.

Also, see what your organisation can do to take advantage of the increasingly popular phenomenon of ‘self-gifting’, whereby people buy themselves presents to bring a little joy to their own lives[6].

New shopping behaviours will impact Black Friday 2020

People’s shopping behaviours have shifted considerably towards online shopping during the pandemic.

There has reportedly been a 74% growth in online shopping since lockdown in some geographies, with 45% of adults having received more parcel deliveries during coronavirus restrictions than before[7].

Additionally, 66% of adults say that they will continue to shop online as often as they have done during lockdown[8], strongly suggesting that online shopping behaviours have permeated in people that might previously have opted to do most of their shopping in physical stores.

Canny online shoppers will be keen to beat the mid-November, Thanksgiving weekend and Black Friday 2020 rush and access great deals and opportunities before other people jump on them.

Is your organisation able to swiftly adapt to this new behaviour and prepare, not just for Black Friday but, to stand out in this highly competitive online landscape?

Make Black Friday 2020 about great experiences

If people were only interested in price, everyone would shop in budget supermarkets and clothes stores.

But they’re not. People – or a significant proportion of people, at least – like nice things and experiences. And that applies online as much as it does in-store.

Giving consumers access to great deals is of course a good idea if it’s done in a proportionate way that doesn’t damage your brand in the long-run. But what you really want to be doing is giving shoppers fantastic customer experiences (CX) that will keep them coming back for more.

Shoppers are more empowered than ever before and they demand experiences that excite and delight them[9].

Black Friday 2020 Example 3
Consumers are looking for so much more from their online, mobile and omnichannel shopping experiences – can you match their expectations? – Image source: The Business of Fashion

Black Friday 2020 is therefore a great opportunity to convert would-be one-off shoppers into long-term customers with high Customer Lifetime Value.

Our blog article on livestreaming illustrated how Western brands and retailers are cottoning on to the hugely popular Chinese online shopping trend. And it’s likely that this channel could create some fantastic returns for brands during Black Friday 2020 and the holiday shopping season in general.

Equally, consumers respond extremely positively to great video and images, as well as to excellent written descriptions that tell enticing stories about products.

And as part of this thinking, don’t forget the importance of a ‘mobile-first’ approach to your content and about how many brands and retailers are creating great omnichannel experiences by using digital to elevate physical shopping to fantastic new levels.

In conclusion – prepare for a Black Friday like no other

People have talked about the demise of Black Friday for years and been very wrong about it.

By the end of Black Friday 2019, retailers had achieved a record $7.4 billion in online sales alone – and few would bet against 2020 Black Friday and holiday season spending going through the roof in line with the skyrocketing popularity of online shopping[10].

But online competition continues to intensify. There will be winners and, inevitably, losers.

We think we know which you’d prefer your organisation to be. So, get in touch to discuss how your organisation can take advantage of the Black Friday spending surge, this year and in the future.

This article was written and created by the eBusiness Institute team.

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