Black Friday 2020 Ad Release Predictions

Black Friday 2020 is set to be the most unique Black Friday of all time. With many retailers already rushing to find innovative ways to survive the holidays during a pandemic, we predict that this year’s Black Friday will be anything but predictable. We still have a month or so before the traditional onslaught of Black Friday ads start dropping, but if we’ve learned anything thus far in 2020, it is that the traditional holiday season does not exist.

Thanksgiving is on Nov. 26 this year, which puts it at the very last weekend of the month. While traditionally we would predict that major retailers would not release their ads until later in the month of November, due to the pandemic, everything feels up in the air. We already had Home Depot announce that they are doing away with the traditional Black Friday weekend sales this year and instead are opting for Black Friday sales to take place during all of November and December. Will other retailers follow in Home Depot’s path? We predict that Home Depot won’t be the only major retailer shaking up their holiday sale events.

Which Black Friday ads will come out first?

Traditionally, Harbor Freight is known as being the first retailer to release their Black Friday ads. We predict that, even during a pandemic, Harbor Freight will be the first retailer to release their ads again this year. It’s possible that they follow Home Depot and not do a traditional Black Friday event, but we still predict that their Black Friday pricing will be readily available before other retailers.

Harbor Freight has a long-standing tradition of releasing their Black Friday ads in October and we predict they could go a different route this year. With Home Depot’s announcement, pressure could be on Harbor Freight – if they want to be first – to get their ads out as early as September. It ultimately comes down to whether or not Harbor Freight is planning on having a standard Black Friday affair. We predict Harbor Freight could release as early as Sept. 28 this year. Harbor Freight usually releases their ad early in the week and with Oct. 1 being on a Thursday, we predict that they will find a way to beat everyone to the punch.

Major Black Friday ad release prediction dates

One of the smartest things you can do to save money during a pandemic is to be as prepared as possible. Holiday shopping will mostly take place online this year, given that it will be nearly impossible for holiday shoppers to maintain social distancing. Black Friday is known for its long lines and waiting for hours just to be some of the first people in line. We predict that major retailers will be well prepared for that uphill battle, but it is still likely that many shoppers won’t be too interested in risking heading out. As a result, we predict that this year will see a major change in how retailers release their Black Friday ads. Here is our breakdown of when Black Friday ads will drop during a pandemic:

Early season: Home Depot, Best Buy, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Dell, Kohl’s

While Dell and Kohl’s usually release their ads a bit earlier than most major retailers, we predict that the pandemic will force other major retailers to stay well ahead of the game this year. We know that online sales have spiked hard since March, which means that retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart have seen a huge increase in online spending. As a result, we predict that these retailers will be looking at breaking tradition and getting out in front of the holiday season as best as possible. If these retailers are looking at copying Home Depot’s Black Friday ideas, then they’ll certainly release ads earlier than in a traditional year. Target hasn’t seen as large of a boom in online sales as the other three, but we predict they’ll be quick to get in on the early Black Friday action. Best Buy and Target both traditionally release their ads in early November, which would make an early release pretty easy for both of them.

This year, we expect to see at least some of these retailers release their ads starting in October.

Regular season: HP, JCPenney, Macy’s, Sears

Is there a regular Black Friday season during a pandemic? We’re about to find out! If any stores stick to a more traditional release of their Black Friday ads, we predict it will be the stores that can’t afford to make major changes. HP and JCPenney are two that stick out to us that we predict will play things pretty safe this year. HP sales are online and don’t typically directly compete with other major retailers and JCPenney’s in-store sales will be quite hindered by the pandemic. It’s safe to assume that both of these retailers will focus on online sales this year and, as a result, won’t have a concern about jumping ahead of the pandemic-driven pack.

Too tough to call: Sam’s Club, GameStop, Walmart

The pandemic has forced us to create a new category this year. There are a handful of stores, like Sam’s Club and GameStop, which could drop ads early – but might not. Sam’s Club and Walmart typically release their ads relatively late in the season, but Walmart does way more business than Sam’s Club does online. We predict Walmart will move to an earlier release and different approach to Black Friday. However, Sam’s Club has seen great success with their curbside pickup option which – during a pandemic – may serve them exceptionally well for Black Friday sales if they follow something similar to Home Depot’s strategy. As a result, we predict that Sam’s Club will be too unpredictable this year. GameStop, while also having a curbside pickup option available for shoppers, has seen a drastic downturn during the last six months. As a result, we predict that they will either follow a regular season and play things safe or that they will have to drastically change their holiday season to try to stay afloat.

Black Friday trends and traditions

If trends and traditions hold during a pandemic, then most retailers will be releasing their Black Friday ads during the mid-to-late part of October. However, as mentioned earlier, we predict that this entire season will be completely unpredictable. It is very possible many retailers will forgo a traditional holiday shopping event like Black Friday and instead stick to strictly online sales and various online promotions. There is one prediction that we think is quite easy to make this year: We will have fewer Black Friday ads or plans leaked compared to previous years. With so many retailers being forced to treat the holiday season differently this year, we should see a big change in how retailers are informing the public of their changes.

It also feels safe to predict that both Amazon and Best Buy will feature the greatest sale prices this year, due strictly to how successful these two companies have been during the pandemic. They are both well equipped to handle online orders and Best Buy has taken great measures to work out their curbside pickup. As a result, we assume these two retailers will be offering some of the lowest holiday pricing we’ll see this year.

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Black Friday ad release dates and predictions

Below is a table displaying the previous years’ release dates, as well as our best predictions for this years’. The previous years are the official date of releases, while the predictions column for this year is only our best predictions.

Retailer 2017 Ad Release Date 2018 Ad Release Date 2019 Ad Release Date 2020 Ad Predicted Date
Amazon 14-Nov 15-Nov 16-Nov 6-Nov October
Best Buy 7-Nov 8-Nov 4-Nov 7-Nov October
Dell 1-Nov 1-Nov 21-Oct 1-Nov November
GameStop 16-Nov 12-Nov 11-Nov 22-Nov ?
HP 8-Nov 5-Nov 5-Nov 2-Nov November
Home Depot 9-Nov 15-Nov 11-Nov 25-Nov October
Kohl’s 26-Oct 1-Nov 1-Nov 1-Nov November
Sam’s Club 13-Nov 12-Nov 12-Nov 15-Nov ?
Target 5-Nov 1-Nov 6-Nov 6-Nov October
Walmart 8-Nov 8-Nov 12-Nov 14-Nov October
Macy’s 8-Nov 5-Nov 12-Nov 12-Nov November
JCPenney 1-Nov 5-Nov 4-Nov 7-Nov November


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