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Will Black Friday Be Canceled This Year?

Posted July 21, 2020 by GottaDEAL Staff

With a little over four months until Black Friday, there remains a great deal of uncertainty about what Black Friday will look like this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the United States. Right now retailers are making their plans in conference rooms and Zoom meetings and we have very little indication of what is in store for us when it comes to Black Friday this year.

Walmart Announces They Will Close on Thanksgiving

Walmart announced in July that they will be closed on Thanksgiving for the first time in more than 30 years. "We know this has been a trying year, and our associates have stepped up. We hope they will enjoy a special Thanksgiving Day at home with their loved ones," John Furner, Walmart’s CEO, said in a statement.

While that reasoning sounds great from a PR standpoint, it is likely not the only reason Walmart is closing on Thanksgiving. Across the country, retailers have cut operating hours and some have closed for holidays such as Easter when they haven’t done so in previous years.

It was also announced that Sam’s Club will remain closed on Thanksgiving, as they have always done. Speaking of Sam’s Club, they are now advertising a new “August Savings Week” sale for August 1st through the 9th. This sale has presumably replaced their traditional summer “one day only” sale and could be a hint as to what is to come in November for larger retailers as they try to avoid having a large number of shoppers at one time.

We expect many retailers to follow Walmart’s lead and take a one-year break from being open on Thanksgiving Day. Many were only open for 5-8 hours on Thanksgiving and they may be able to recoup those sales by having a longer sale. More on that below. We do however expect the Thursday openings to resume next year.

Different Possibilities for Black Friday

There are many ways retailers could try to capture those all-important holiday sales this year even with the coronavirus still spreading. Let us take a look at a few possible strategies we could see:

No changes: While it is unlikely to happen for the larger retailers, there will likely be several retailers who will not change much from any other year. They will have a big sale on Black Friday and will rely on whatever safety practices they have in place to deal with the larger crowds. There are many smaller stores that do not see the crush of traffic on Black Friday that other larger retailers do and so there may not be the need to make major changes.

Longer sales: We could see retailers decide to stretch out their sales from one or two days into weeklong sales that run a week or longer. This could serve as a way to reduce crowds on any single day. We could see a store starting their sale the Saturday before Thanksgiving and running through Black Friday weekend. Stores may wish to place different doorbuster deals on different days during the sale as well.

Add a lottery: For stores such as Walmart and Best Buy that very popular doorbuster deals for which shoppers are willing to wait in lines for hours, an innovative approach might to be to conduct randomized drawings or lotteries on their website. Customers could register for the chance to purchase the doorbuster items they want and if they are selected they could pay online and pick up the item at their local store.

Skip Black Friday: Retailers also have the option to completely skip Black Friday this year. They could rely on their sales throughout October, November and December to carry them financially instead of having one big sale that draws crowds at a time when large crowds are discourage or banned in some areas.

Online Shopping Will Dominate

This goes without saying but online shopping should become a huge part of retailers’ plans for this year. The yearly increases we see in online shopping will seem tame compared to this year. More people than ever will not only shop online during November and December, but they’ll do a much larger percentage of their shopping online.

This means that retailers had better be prepared to handle this spike in traffic and orders. Some of that merchandise that might have been shipped to stores for their Black Friday sales should be kept at warehouses to fulfil online orders. Retailers should also be prepared for massive traffic to their sites the week of Black Friday and could lose important sales if their site is down or not accepting orders.

We' re also seeing issues with the United States Postal Service lately where, likely due to cost-cutting measures, many packages are taking much longer to arrive. Combine this with the usual Q4 increase in shipping and add increased online shopping and we recommend getting your orders in as soon as possible if you want to guarantee delivery by Christmas.

Here are GottaDEAL we will definitely be focusing on the online deals as we know many of you will be doing most of your shopping online this year. We’ll be posting more deals than ever before and will have innovative ways to make sure you don’t miss out on anything.

Retailers Face Tough Decisions

Retailers are in a difficult position because they have to make these big decisions months ahead of time, and as we’ve seen with the virus, conditions can rapidly change so it’s virtually impossible to know what conditions will look like in every city in the country by late November.

Perhaps the increase in mask mandates will help slow the spread and it will be possible to have a semi-normal Black Friday in most areas. Social distancing protocols will make having a big one-day-only sale tough as stores will need a much larger area to space customers out both inside and outside the store.

The next few months should have plenty of additional announcements from retailers about their plans and we’ll be sure to post those updates on our Black Friday site homepage, so be sure to bookmark it and check back often for the latest news.