black friday

Black Friday isn’t dead, just different

COVID-19 has turned 2020 into an experience that no one expected, with the majority of the U.S. going into lockdown while social-distancing measures took hold, stores closed, and masks became common public outerwear. Measures have started to loosen several months out, with some states reopening stores, restaurants and more, albeit to limited capacity.

There’s still a lot of uncertainty around the virus, as to whether it will continue to have a hold over the country in the coming months, and if these social-distancing measures will have to continue into 2021. This uncertainty leads to many questions, including whether some businesses will have to shutter their doors forever or when some companies will be able to transition workers from remote lifestyles back into the office.

One question involves the holiday season, wherein people are wondering what holiday shopping will like this year. Chief among this is the question: what will Black Friday look like this year?

Black Friday isn’t dead

Black Friday is sure to look different this year, thanks to COVID-19, but that won’t change the fact that people are prepared to spend. Even though foot traffic to stores has slowed in recent years, with many relying on their computers, tablets, and smartphones to shop, this shopping holiday isn’t going to just disappear. Rather, the version we’ll see of it will be modernized, one fitting for the digital age.

In particular, here are some of the most pertinent Black Friday changes we’ll see in 2020.

1. In-store shopping might not be around

At this time, some stores have announced they will be closed for Black Friday shopping, such as Home Depot, Kohl’s, and Walmart. Yet while you won’t be able to enjoy the in-store shopping experience consistent to years past, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be the end of the line.

2. Relying on the digital realm

With stores closing their doors for Black Friday, consumers should expect to instead flock online to make their annual post-Thanksgiving holiday purchases. Sites are sure to become bolstered by this experience, both in preparation of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to guarantee they can handle the uptick in traffic brought on from shoppers moving online.

But expect to find some sites lacking when it comes to the optimization of their website. Due to this increase in sudden traffic, there are bound to be some sites that will struggle with the influx of shoppers, leading to their stores going down and shoppers leaving for other businesses.

3. Curbside pickup might be the star

For stores remaining open, the biggest winner of this year might be curbside pickup. As of now, curbside pickup has allowed many people—especially the immunocompromised—to conduct shopping without the worry of having to be around other people, particularly some who are not following social-distancing guidelines. This shopping option won’t go away anytime soon, and it’s sure to be put into use for Black Friday. Shoppers looking to get items in quick fashion will be able to shop in the morning, make their purchases online and pick them up a few hours later, all without having to get out of their car.

4. An in-store lottery system?

Stores that remain open are sure to have restrictions in place, particularly limiting the number of customers allowed in the store at one time. This won’t stop the shopping experience of Black Friday; rather, businesses are going to find a way to make it work for their benefit.

What we’ll most likely see in 2020 is the gamification and exclusivity of in-store shopping, where businesses will create a lottery system that allows customers to shop in waves. By signing up online, you’ll be given the opportunity to pull a varied number which will give you a time slot where you are allowed to do your shopping alongside just a few other customers. These designated time frames will ensure safety is maintained in the store, allowing shoppers to get what they need without being in a densely populated store.

5. Will deals be better?

Black Friday is known for its “doorbuster” deals: incredible discounts given to shoppers who patiently wait in line for the store to first open in the morning, getting incredible deals on televisions, gaming consoles, children’s toys, and more. But with many stores closing their doors for this year’s Black Friday, these “in-store doorbusters” won’t have any significance.

Instead, they’ll transition into notable digital sales. But will they look the same? It’s unclear at the moment, but businesses might use some different methods to promote customers to regularly check out their website throughout the day. This can include “hour-only” sales, where products will be featured on a high discount for just one hour, or it might include flash sales, where products are put on sale for a specific price until a specific number of those items sell.

6. Affiliate marketing takes hold

Because of the lack of in-store shopping, brands will have to find new ways to promote their sales and discounts. Expect affiliate marketing strategies to make a splash this year, where brands will rely on cross-promotion to make consumers aware of their deals. Deals are sure to be promoted by affiliate companies through apps like Instagram leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, guaranteeing customers remember just what companies have to offer in 2020.

7. The Black Friday “Weekend” might extend

Even if Black Friday looks different this year, it’s not going to spell the end of the shopping holiday. Cyber Monday already became a staple back in 2005, and the shopping has extended since to the Saturday and Sunday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

For all we know, 2020 might see holiday shopping deals extended throughout the end of the year, becoming a month-long event where consumers can continue receiving deals all while limited to shopping from their homes.

Black Friday won’t look the same in 2020 as it did in the past, but that doesn’t spell bad news. If anything, consumers will enjoy extreme convenience this year, where they’re able to shop for the holidays all without having to leave their home.

Nick Veneris is a digital strategist with over twelve years’ experience in planning and executing marketing plans for B2C/B2B brands. Currently, he’s the Marketing Manager for Refersion, the advanced affiliate marketing platform that helps brands manage, track, and grow their affiliate network. 

Black Friday stock photo by Magi Bagi/Shutterstock