Several of the biggest retailers announced over the summer that Black Friday 2020 would be different than anything we’ve seen before — and they were exceptionally correct. Stores have taken extreme measures to provide safe shopping experiences since the lockdowns started lifting back in April. Many retailers have limited the number of shoppers allowed in their stores and taken other measures to not promote large crowds. So far this season we’ve seen pre-Black Friday sales, week-long Black Friday announcements, and only a handful of specific Black Friday in-store only deals.
As a result of all this chaos, Black Friday feels anything but special this year. Most of the pre-Black Friday ads featured watered down savings that weren’t worth getting excited over. Many of the week-long Black Friday ads feel tame compared to years past. Most shoppers are hopeful that retailers have been saving surprise deals for Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday itself, namely because many of the advertised deals are lackluster at best.
Almost all televisions
While we normally advise waiting until the Super Bowl rather than Black Friday to purchase a new television, this year is slightly different. Television manufacturers typically announce their newest model TVs just after the start of the new year. Big box retailers then discount the older models leading up to the Super Bowl, as many shoppers love watching the big game on a big screen. While Black Friday deals can be enticingly low, that doesn’t always mean you’re getting the best deal. Retailers often discount brands you’ve never heard of, just to have a low-priced TV on the cover of their ad.
This year is complicated, not just from stores treating Black Friday differently but from the pandemic in general. HDMI 2.1 is the new standard for audio and video. Although it was launched back in 2017, it’s finally making its way into our homes. Both the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles, which launched this year, feature the new standard. Both consoles will still work fine with televisions that do not feature HDMI 2.1 inputs, but many special features will be missing as a result. Only a handful of 2020 television models feature HDMI 2.1, which we’re certain will become a standard feature on televisions starting in 2021. Buying a television now, without HDMI 2.1, means you’ll be buying a new television sooner rather than later.
If picking up a television on Black Friday 2020 is a must, we highly recommend shopping at Best Buy this year. Best Buy was the only retailer to heavily advertised televisions in their Black Friday ad and they also feature some of the best pricing on LG’s CX line of OLED televisions, which feature HDMI 2.1.
Almost all PlayStation 4 and Xbox One titles
The Xbox Series and PlayStation 5 launched in mid-November 2020 and with them, only a handful of new games. Both consoles feature backwards compatibility (the option to play older generation games on the newest generation of consoles), giving gamers a vast library of older games to choose from. Many of these older generation games are receiving free “enhanced” versions for the new consoles (which will take better use of the great technology in the new consoles) as well.
However, due to the lack of new titles for the new consoles, many of the older generation games are not heavily discounted this year. None of the major retailers are offering any discounts or bundles on the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 consoles, which would often create a great way to save on newer games. Many more games will launch for the new consoles starting in 2021, and it is very likely that Black Friday 2021 will see huge sales on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 titles as a result.
Making matters worse is the fact that Black Friday 2019 saw massive discounts on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 titles, namely because the new consoles with new games were launching in 2020. As a result, several of the discounted Xbox One and PlayStation 4 games this year are just repeated deals from 2019.
If someone on your shopping list desires Xbox One or PlayStation 4 games, we highly recommend shopping at either Walmart or GameStop. These two retailers are offering the biggest discounts on the older generation games.
New Samsung phones
Last year, it was highly advised to hold off on purchasing the iPhone 11 for Black Friday, as it would be Apple’s last model phone to not feature 5G. That advice was on-point, as the iPhone 12 launched this year and is easily one of the best phones Apple has released thus far. Unfortunately, Samsung is in a similar spot to Apple in 2019.
It was confirmed earlier this year that the Samsung Note20 would be the last device in the Note line. Rumors are heavy that Samsung will be looking to merge their Galaxy line of phones with the Note line of phones, nixing the two somewhat competing lines to form a new type of device certain to please users of both. Smart shoppers should hold off of both the Galaxy models and the Note models, to see what Samsung has in store for 2021.
Samsung also launched the Fold2 this year, which is technically their third attempt at the Fold series (the first attempt was put through a recall, which essentially created a second version of the first Fold). While the Fold2 gets a lot of things right, Microsoft stunned the cellphone industry with their release of the Surface Duo in September – a dual screen device that directly competes in the same space as the Fold line. Microsoft has taken a lot of heat for software issues of the Duo, but they’ve taken a ton of praise for the device’s hardware. It is very likely that Samsung will improve upon the Fold model for the Fold3, taking the Surface Duo design into account.
Avoid the entire Staples ad
Staples has never exactly set the world on fire with their Black Friday ads. The retailer tends to offer deals that are identical to bigger retailers for Black Friday, with very little to be excited about. However, this year’s ad is 15 pages of mediocre savings, combined with some of the weirdest ad pages of the year (featuring everything from face masks to alcohol wipes to aerosol disinfectant spray).
Overall, the ad features discounts on office furniture, printers, electronics and an assortment of smart home accessories. The advertised prices aren’t lower than any other retailer’s pricing, offering very little incentive to shop Staples over another major retailer.
One of the better deals in the ad is Staple’s discounted Print and Marketing Services. If you have a lot to print off this year and need it professionally done, Staples is offering reasonable incentives to use their services over their competitors this year.
Avoid shopping in store
Due to the pandemic, almost every retailer has created several ways to contactlessly shop this holiday season. From curbside pickup to free delivery to free in-store pickup, there are plenty of options for not having to wait in long lines or rush through a retailer’s doors as soon as they open on Black Friday. Almost every retailer is also offering week-long sales, rather than sales focused only on Black Friday this year. As a result, the majority of shoppers should be able to avoid almost all contact with other humans during one of the most hectic and crazy shopping times of the year. Walmart’s in-store Black Friday sales, for example, are only a subset of the deals found within the Walmart Black Friday ad. We highly recommend, for your safety and others, that you avoid the crowds this year and take advantage of all the different ways you can shop without spending more than five minutes in any store.