20 trends for Black Friday 2021

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Black Friday is still a spectacular affair, but things will be very different in 2021. Following last year’s holiday season at the height of the pandemic, shoppers and retailers are now looking to get back to normal while maintaining new habits.

In 2021, consumers will buy like never before, both in terms of quantity and how to buy.

Here are 20 trends to look for for Black Friday 2021:

  1. In-store purchases are back. Almost all of Black Friday shopping in 2020 took place online, but this year consumers are eager to return to stores to purchase physical items. Stores that offer exclusive in-store deals or unique experiences will attract customers.
  2. The room is inside. Customers want to purchase items from local businesses in order to support local businesses and reduce shipping delays. Given the choice between a mass-produced item or a local product, customers will increasingly buy local. Products made in the United States will also see more sales in 2021.
  3. Generation Z is having fun. Shoppers will be younger, with the bulk of Black Friday shoppers in the 18-44 age group. To reach younger customers, brands need to double their digital buying and marketing.
  4. Staff shortages are changing the in-store experience. Staffing challenges across the country have caused stores to get creative in how they attract new employees and use them on Black Friday. With fewer receptionists and in-store associates guiding customers, brands will increasingly rely on signage and apps to personalize and support the in-store experience.
  5. Customers have already started. With supply chain issues, the majority of consumers plan to start and end their holiday shopping earlier than usual. This means that customers will likely have started already before Black Friday instead of serving as a holiday kick-off in years past.
  6. Brand loyalty is over. More and more consumers are looking for the best deal instead of automatically going back to their favorite brands. Lack of loyalty creates opportunities for brands to attract new customers with exciting offers, personalization and hands-on experiences.
  7. Buy now, pay later. Customers want a modern approach to layaway where they get the item now, but they have months to pay it off. Brands big and small are jumping on the trend to reach customers who may feel limited by their current finances.
  8. Flexibility of returns is important. Even though customers are looking for great discounts, they are also thinking about how to possibly return the items. The flexibility of buying online and returning in store or an extended return policy during the holidays attracts undecided customers.
  9. Customers will balk at the shipping cost. Many consumers are used to getting free and fast shipping through services like Amazon Prime and Walmart +. The thought of having to pay shipping costs might distract shoppers from online retailers or make them look for different ways to collect their items.
  10. But shipping is even more expensive. USPS and other delivery companies are adding holiday surcharges, which must either be passed on to customers or consumed by retailers. This could result in higher prices while still providing “free” delivery.
  11. Customers are looking for sustainability. Brands that reuse materials or sell sustainable, eco-friendly products will see a boost during Black Friday 2021. In many cases, customers are willing to spend more or see less of a discount to purchase an item. responsibly made that they can feel good with.
  12. Shopping is social. Black Friday is a social occasion where customers come together to be physically close to products and other shoppers. Customers will be looking for a strong social experience in 2021, even when shopping online. This means that brands need to find ways to connect with customers, both in person and online.
  13. Buyers will use multiple platforms. Most customers will buy across multiple platforms, including in person, online, and through an app or voice assistant. Using many channels is convenient and allows customers to get all deals, including doorbusters exclusive to apps or physical stores. A consistent omnichannel experience has never been more important for brands.
  14. Big box stores are leading the charge. Consumers say they’re more likely to shop at physical store chains like Walmart and Target in 2021, both online and in-store. E-commerce brands come next.
  15. But Amazon will always set the tone. Customers are comfortable shopping on Amazon and will take advantage of the site’s many Black Friday deals. Even though many buyers are turning to local brands and ways to avoid shipping, Amazon remains the main competitor.
  16. Curbside pickup continues to shine. For many customers, this is the best of both worlds – being able to shop online without having to wait weeks for an item to arrive. Curbside pickup has resumed during the pandemic and will be a strong competitive advantage during Black Friday.
  17. Offers matter. Even though the pandemic is diminishing in many places, budgets are still tight. Many customers will be more budget and transaction conscious than in the past, which means the lowest price could be the deciding factor.
  18. AR and VR bring products to life. More than ever, tools such as augmented reality and virtual reality will help customers see items virtually and test them on themselves or in their space to make informed purchasing decisions.
  19. It’s a month-long event. Most department stores are launching deals weeks before the actual Black Friday this year. While 2021 is expected to break sales records, retailers are no longer so reliant on Black Friday and instead focusing on the holiday shopping season as a whole. But a longer buying period could lead to buy-out of buyers.
  20. Stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. In-store deals began on Thanksgiving afternoon, but with major retailers like Target, Best Buy, and Walmart closed for Thanksgiving this year, in-store deals will begin on Friday. This could push online sales and lead to bigger crowds on Black Friday.

Blake morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and best-selling book author The customer of the future. Be part of the brand new Customer experience community here.


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