As we begin our 10th year of covering Black Friday, we at GottaDeal.com are in a better position than almost anyone to offer predictions for this year’s sales, trends and deals. Over the last decade, we’ve seen Black Friday become a major cultural phenomenon. When we first started the site, most people had no idea what the term Black Friday was. Things have definitely changed.
Our decade of expertise combined with the valuable opinions of hundreds of our visitors who recently completed a thorough survey about their Black Friday opinions allows us to offer a glimpse into what should be the most popular deals and the hottest items of the year. We’ll also give you some detailed price predictions based on our research as well as some general holiday shopping predictions.
Last year saw the trend of stores opening earlier than ever continue. Most stores opened at midnight, and a few opened earlier on Thanksgiving night. The initial reports from retailers were positive as the increased shopping hours allowed them to offset any potential decrease in sales caused by the economy not having fully recovered yet. We expect these early opening times to continue this year, as do our visitors. 44% of our poll respondents predicted opening times similar to last year, while 55% predicted doors would open even earlier.
While we won’t see a steady stream of leaked Black Friday ads until the middle of October at the earliest, we are predicting that while retailers will try to boost sales with their Black Friday ads, the actual deals will likely be very similar to last year. As has happened in the last couple of years, while there will be a handful of very hot deals, we expect the deals overall to lack that "wow" factor that the sale ads had 7 to 10 years ago. While there were some nice deals last year, many stores failed to get consumers excited.
One of the complaints many of our visitors had was that stores failed to stock enough Black Friday sale items to meet demand. Unfortunately we don’t see that changing much this year. We're expecting stock levels to be consistent with last year, therefore it may be more important than ever to get in line early to score the best deals this year.
Another trend that should continue is the extension of Black Friday from one day into a prolonged period of sales. Again this year there were several major national retailers that had "Black Friday in July" sales earlier this year. These sales were not even close to the regular Black Friday sales in terms of the level of deals, but the trend of using the term "Black Friday" for sales that aren't specifically on November 23rd will likely continue as retailers pull out all the stops to get people in the stores.
This year Black Friday falls on the earliest possible date, November 23rd. This will give retailers a longer period between Black Friday and Christmas, the most important stretch of the year for them, which should mean more deals after Black Friday as well. Next year, Black Friday will fall on November 29th, the latest possible date. This will introduce new challenges for retailers with the close proximity to Christmas as they’ll lose a shopping weekend.
We also predict that stores will once again heavily embrace social networking this year as a part of their strategy for the holiday season. Look for exclusive deals and contests to appear on stores’ Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. We expect several stores to give sneak peeks of their Black Friday ad via these means as well, although we may beat them to it and have their ad already posted here on GottaDeal.com. You may remember that Walmart released their ad on their site and Facebook page last year, something that we heard they found to be very successful.
Let's have a look at specific items that should prove to be popular this year:
Tablets & eReaders
We’ll start with what is likely the hottest item this year – tablets. While the Apple iPad continues to dominate the market, there are several new challengers this year, especially in the 7” tablet marketplace. Google’s Nexus 7 along with Amazon’s new lineup of Kindle Fire HD tablets figure to be extremely popular this holiday season. Inventory issues may prevent major deals on these models, however we could see free accessories or gift card offers with the purchase of these tablets.
Many are predicting that Apple will release an iPad mini tablet at some point before Black Friday. Should that happen, you can add it to the list of highly demanded tablets. We don’t expect any deals on a new iPad, although we expect free items to be offered with the purchase of the standard iPad models at a few retailers.
Inexpensive Android tablets will once again dominate the Black Friday ads this year because of their low prices. Expect many tablets in the $49 range, usually 7” or 8” models with 4GB of storage space. Step up to a 10” Android 4.0 model with 8GB storage for around $129. Look for great deals on higher-end Android tablets from manufacturers such as Asus, Toshiba, Samsung and others.
eReaders will also be very popular this year. Amazon recently introduced their Paperwhite models. These, as well as the original Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook eReaders will appear in many Black Friday ads this year. Expect price cuts on older generation models as well as retailers hope to clear old stock before the end of the year.
HDTVs have been popular Black Friday items for many years now, but shoppers still crave even more deals so we expect that this holiday season will be another big year as prices have continued to drop since last year. 3D TVs have been on the market long enough that we may finally start seeing some deep discounts on older 3D models on Black Friday this year.
With HDTVs, quality can vary greatly from the cheaper to the more expensive units. In many cases, the lowest-priced models on Black Friday are stripped-down models lacking some of the “bells and whistles” of the higher priced versions. That doesn't necessarily mean that these deals aren't great, just be aware of what you are buying and have realistic expectations for the performance you'll get out of it.
In our recent Black Friday survey, we asked our visitors for price predictions, and their thoughts were pretty much in line with our own. We expect to see the most common Black Friday HDTV, a 32" LCD model, as low as $149 this year. During the last few months on GottaDeal.com, we've posted deals for 32" HDTVs for as low as $179, so it's completely realistic to expect deals in Black Friday ads for under $150 on a lower-quality model.
Another very popular HDTV that is commonly seen in ads is a 42” 1080p model, usually from a well-known brand. On GottaDeal.com we've posted 42" 1080p LCD HDTVs for under $400 recently, so it would not surprise us to see a 42" 1080p LCD HDTV in Black Friday ads for around $349 or less. Expect a cheaper 42” plasma HDTV for as low as $249. Larger 47" and 50" LCD or LED models should be available for around $399 and $449 respectively.
Bargains on smaller HDTVs will also be plentiful this year. We expect to see a bedroom-sized 24” HDTVs for around $99 and even smaller 19" LCD HDTV models for around $69 this year, so it should be a great year to outfit your entire home with HD-capable displays. Although with prices falling for larger 32” models, it’s usually worth the extra cost to upgrade to one of those models if you have the room.
While Black Friday is a great time to buy the loss-leader, lower-end HDTVs, if you are looking for a deal on a higher quality, name-brand HDTV, the best time to buy is typically in early to mid-December as retailers tend to ramp up the deals to get those last minute sales before the holidays. And even if you miss those deals, the pre-Super Bowl TV deals are also very attractive every year.
Laptops & Desktops
One of the hottest Black Friday ad items traditionally has been the ultra-cheap laptop. The recent surge in popularity of tablets has somewhat taken sales away from traditional laptops, but the bargain-basement laptop is still the quintessential Black Friday deal in many of our visitors’ eyes. Desktop computers, while still popular, are not as "sexy" as they've been in the past. They have become almost disposable because of price drops and the fact that it doesn't take much in terms of features to handle what 99% of the general public uses a desktop for in their daily lives.
If you are considering purchasing a laptop or netbook on Black Friday this year, we can't stress enough how important it is to decide what features you need and what you will be using the computer for. There will be cheap laptops, but if they don't fit your needs, as good of a deal they may seem on the surface, you will end up disappointed soon after you purchase it. Questions to consider: what size screen do you need? Is weight an important factor? What about battery life? Do you need to be able to burn DVDs on the laptop? Some parts of the laptop (such as RAM memory) can always be upgraded later on, but other components such as screen size, battery life and processor are usually permanent.
The "classic" Black Friday laptop the last few years has had a 15.6" widescreen LCD display, a dual-core processor, 4GB of memory, 500GB hard drive and DVD burner. Laptops like these have been available all year long from retailers such as Best Buy, Dell and Staples for as low as $249. Therefore we predict we'll see this level of laptop in Black Friday ads for around $199 this year. Several of our visitors predicted a $149 price point for a low-tier laptop, which is also a distinct possibility.
Models with upgraded components should also be very good deals this year. Back-to-school sales were down and that factor, combined with lower prices for the individual components should lead to great bargains this year. Look for a model with an Intel Core i5 processor, 6GB of RAM and a Blu-ray drive for around $449, possibly as low as $399.
Desktop computers will continue to sell, however we're reaching the point of diminishing returns as any budget desktop bought last Black Friday will be just as good as most advertised this year. For 99% of daily tasks (internet, e-mail, homework, office work), it doesn't take more than a low-end desktop to handle these tasks. This year we expect a low-level desktop (dual core processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive, DVD burner) bundled with a 19" or 20" LCD monitor to be possibly as low as $199. Upgrade to a faster quad-core processor, more RAM, bigger hard drive and a 24" monitor for $100 to $150 more.
As desktops lose favor with many consumers as they switch to laptops and tablets, peripherals for these machines aren't as popular. However we still expect to see deals on flat panel monitors around what they were last year as prices have not dropped too much. We are expecting 19" monitors to be in Black Friday ads in the $69 range and 22" models for possibly as low as $89. 24" models should be around $119 as well.
As with every Black Friday, expect a lot of deals on things like external hard drives, flash drives and mice/keyboard sets. These items always sell well on Black Friday and are great “impulse buys” for retailers to put in their ads. External hard drives have become very popular recently for backup purposes, and we're expecting 1TB external drives to be around $49.Look for smaller, portable 500GB drives for around $39 this year. 16GB flash drives could be as low as $5. 32GB flash drives should be around $15. Storage is very cheap these days and that fact will be reflected in the ads this year.
One item that can be found at very low prices in Black Friday is a printer. If you are looking for a new printer, Black Friday is your best bet. Look for monochrome laser printers for under $50. All-in-one color inkjets should also be plentiful in the ads, at prices starting around $49. Be sure to consider the costs of buying ink or toner when deciding which model to buy.
The recently announced iPhone 5 smartphone will be at the top of many shoppers’ lists this year. We are not expecting any deals for this model this year because of Apple’s MAP policies. We may however see discounts on older iPhone models such as the 4 and 4S.
Deals on Android and Windows smartphones should be plentiful. You should be able to get nearly any current Android smartphone for free with a new 2-year contract on Black Friday. Last year Amazon offered nearly every phone they carried for free, so we expect similar level deals this year as well.
GPS navigation systems were big sellers on Black Friday several years ago, but since then, as most consumers interested in them have bought one, they aren't in demand like they used to be. Prices have continued to drop as new models have been released with incremental feature upgrades such as updated maps, traffic and weather capability and improved, larger displays. Being able to upgrade maps inexpensively has meant that many consumers have not needed to buy new units.
We've posted deals all year long on GottaDeal.com for GPS systems well below $100 and therefore we expect to see a budget GPS system with 3.5" LCD display for $29 to $39 this year on Black Friday, and more name-brand, feature-loaded models from the manufacturers just mentioned for around $69. Larger models with 5" displays and lifetime traffic and maps service should be around $99 this year. Your best bet is to look for a model with lifetime traffic and map updates as you won't need to pay every few years to get the latest maps. A 4.3” model with these features could be had this year for as low as $79.
Audio & Video
Blu-ray continues to be the standard HD format for movies, and therefore we expect some nice deals on Blu-ray players and movies on Black Friday. We fully expect Blu-ray players to appear in Black Friday ads for as low as $39, a price point echoed by several respondents to our survey. While extremely cheap DVD movies have always been a staple of Black Friday, Blu-ray movies are now joining the party. Expect to see very cheap prices on both Blu-ray movies and TV season box sets.
iPods and other MP3 players are always a hot seller on Black Friday because they make great gifts. Apple recently introduced a completely refreshed iPod lineup which will hit stores in October, just in time for Black Friday. In most cases, retailers cannot advertise iPods at prices lower than the standard MSRP, so expect to see promotions such as free accessories, free iTunes cards or free store gift cards with the purchase of these players this year.
Accessories for older iPods are also expected to see big price cuts as they do every Black Friday, but this year should see even greater deals because of Apple changing the connector for new iPods and iPhones. This includes items such as alarm clocks, docking speaker systems, automotive accessories, cases and more.
Cameras & Camcorders
While a few years ago digital cameras were a huge Black Friday item, these days nearly everyone has one and so it takes more than just a cheap price to get people to make a purchase. As one of the most popular online deal sites, we believe digital camera deals are usually better during the year than they are on Black Friday.
While going through the ads each year, we always notice cameras on "sale" for prices much more than they can be ordered online. So if you are considering a digital camera, we suggest you follow our online deals instead of relying on Black Friday for the best deals. With more consumers looking to purchase higher-end digital cameras, expect the deals for these “pro-sumer” models to be better this year.
One of the hottest items in any category this year will be the new Nintendo Wii U video game system. This console will be released just five days before Black Friday. Because of possibly limited stock, we don’t expect many retailers to include the Wii U in their ads. However we may see deals on the new games and accessories for the system if quantities allow for it.
The older Nintendo Wii will be an interesting item this year. With the new Wii U on the market by Black Friday, retailers may want to begin clearing stock of the current Wii Console. Expect deals such as a Wii bundled with a $50 gift card for $149 this holiday season. Several of our visitors have predicted the Wii will drop to $99 for Black Friday, another possibility.
Popular games being released this fall for all systems should also help sales, although deals for these new games will not be easy to find. Instead, expect promotions such as free accessories, gift cards, point cards or other items with the purchase of selected newer games. Deals on older video game titles will be very good this year as the current set of consoles matures. Look for “greatest hits” games for all major consoles to be on sale in the $10-15 range.
Many of our visitors who responded to our survey predicted that some of the hottest items this year will be toys. Some of the most frequently mentioned items were the new LeapPad 2 from LeapFrog along with other designed-for-kids tablets such as Toys R Us’ new model. Additional popular toys this year should include the new generation of Furby interactive toys and the very popular One Direction and Monster High dolls.
Online Black Friday Deals
We can't stress enough that to get the best deals on Black Friday or any other day of the year, you have to check online first. At GottaDeal.com
we post hundreds of new online deals each week and our forum members post even more every day on the message boards
. On Black Friday @ GottaDeal.com
, we'll have a continuously updated list of Black Friday ad items that can be purchased online at Black Friday ad prices. Look for this list in mid-November. We urge our visitors to order as many ad items as possible online before leaving the house. It'll save you time, hassle and space in your trunk.
We do expect online retailers to continue to offer amazing deals this quarter as well as they compete with the brick and mortar retailers. Expect big sales and online-only coupons from retailers such as Amazon.com
and many, many others. And to keep track of these deals, just bookmark our home page at GottaDeal.com
where we'll keep you updated on the latest deals throughout the day, every day of the year.
Share Your Predictions
What do you think will be the hot items this year? Have any price predictions? Share them by commenting below or post them on our message boards.