With the holidays on the horizon already, many are beginning to wonder what Black Friday 2021 will look like. It's the biggest deals event of the year, and one of the most popular times to buy Christmas gifts at bargain prices.
And if you've been perusing deals online (like we are all the time), you may have already seen retailers beginning to build the Black Friday buzz.
The pandemic meant Black Friday 2020 was a somewhat different affair, with many retailers choosing (or being forced to) close their doors and direct all customers online. In June 2021, Walmart announced that it would once again close all its US locations on Thanksgiving Day. The retailer usually kicks off Black Friday sales on the evening of Thanksgiving. It's likely other US retailers will follow suit, given how prominent Black Friday is in the States.
Here we're answering all your questions around Black Friday season and making major predictions on what to expect this year, so you're fully prepared to snap up the best Black Friday deals on laptops, phones, Apple devices, and anything else you've been waiting to get your hands on.
When is Black Friday 2021?
This year Black Friday is on 26 November, one day after US Thanksgiving. The event will be followed by Cyber Monday.
How many days is Black Friday?
The boundaries of when Black Friday starts and ends is no longer as well-defined as it used to be. Traditionally, the event lasted one day, whereas now, Black Friday deals begin as early as October.
In the US, Best Buy has already started Black Friday pricing, while Target has started an early Black Friday 'Holiday Best' savings event which promises the best prices of the season. Walmart has also revealed its Black Friday prices across a variety of tech.
In the UK, retailers such as Amazon and Currys PC World often have early Black Friday deals with top discounts arriving a week or two before Black Friday. The BT Shop has also started inviting customers to sign up to its Black Friday deals mailing list.
Be sure to sign up to Tech Advisor's deals newsletter so you can keep up with the best Black Friday deals all across the web!
Best early Black Friday deals right now
Below are the best tech deals we can see right now ahead of Black Friday 2021. We're also including any early Black Friday offers as they're announced.
1. HIde.me two-year VPN subscription (plus 3 months free)
Was: $268.65 / £269.73
Now: $69.95 / £69.99 (74% off)
Hide.me is celebrating its 10-year anniversary and offering a great two-year deal as part of it.
As with so many of these deals, the 'free' extra three months are factored into the monthly price shown, meaning they're not free at all. Or the real monthly price is actually higher ($2.91 / £2.91).
Regardless, you'll pay for the entire 27 months upfront and it's a good deal compared to the prices Hide.me usually charges. Plus, the subscription renews at the deal price, which is a bonus.
2. Apple iPhone 12 Mini + Nintendo Switch
From: Mobile Phones Direct
Now: £50 per month for 24 months (£9.99 upfront)
If you're in the market for a new phone, then you can grab this iPhone 12 Mini on an O2 contract and bundle a Nintendo Switch in with the price. This deal also includes three months of Apple TV+ for free. Mobiles.co.uk has similar offers with other mobile phone contracts.
3. Apple 11in iPad Pro (2021, M1, 128GB)
Now: £699 (£50 off)
Save £50 on the M1 iPad Pro 11in on Amazon.
4. Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G with 100GB data
From: Mobile Phones Direct
Now: £27 per month (£200 trade-in cashback + 6 months of Disney+)
5. Samsung Galaxy S22 (128GB)
Now: £730 (£39 off)
Amazon has one of the best prices on the Galaxy S22 right now. See all the best Galaxy S22 Series deals.
6. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 (15in, Ryzen 7, 8GB, 256GB)
Now: £1098 (£201 off)
Save £200 on the 15in Surface Laptop 4 from Amazon - the offer ends soon!
7. Ivacy five-year VPN subscription
Was: $597 / £480
Now: $71.64 / £57.59 (88% off)
Ivacy's deal is one of the best around, knocking a whopping 88% off the usual monthly price.
It's a five-year subscription that works out at $1.19 per month, or 96p if you're in the UK. The up-front payment of $71.64 / £57.59 is a real bargain, as that's what most VPN services charge for two years, or even one year.
Ivacy offers a great service which supports P2P downloads, unblocks streaming services (including Netflix and Disney+) and, like any VPN service, gives you security when using public Wi-Fi and privacy when browsing the web.
You can use it on up to 10 devices at the same time, but even if you use it only on one or two, it's still one the cheapest VPN deals around. Plus, as a bonus, you also get a password manager included for the first year!
8. Trend Micro Internet Security - 1 Year, 3 Devices
From: Trend Micro
Was: £49.95 / $79.95
Now: £19.95 / $29.95 (60% / 62% off)
Trend Micro's online protection for up to three devices is 60% off the first year for those in the UK and there's a slightly higher 62% discount if you're in the US (get the deal here).
In AV-Test's latest report, Trend Micro earns maximum points for protection, usability and performance, making this not just an affordable deal, but top-notch protection as well.
9. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 (8+128GB) - Refurbished
Now: £449 (£500 off)
GiffGaff has £500 off a refurbished Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 phone. The handset is unlocked and comes with a 12 month warranty.
See the best Z Flip 3 deals around in our dedicated round up.
10. Voxi SIM-Only with 25GB data
Now: £12 per month (with uncapped social media & video)
Grab 25GB of data for the price of 20GB along with Endless Social Media and Video (TikTok, YouTube, Prime Video and Netflix).
11. Apple AirPods Max
Now: £409 (£140 off)
This saving on the AirPods Max used to be even better - until recently it was £399 - but Amazon currently has the best price around with up to £140 off.
12. Nintendo Switch
Now: £248 (£12 off)
Amazon's price is now roughly £12 lower than Nintendo's reduced price for the Switch. The console comes with 32GB storage, and an improved battery life over the original model.
13. Xiaomi 12 with free Eco bundle
From: Carphone Warehouse
Pick up Xiaomi's latest flagship from Carphone Warehouse from £36.99 per month with double date, was 25GB now 50GB.
14. Norton Norton 360 Deluxe (1 year)
Now: £29.99 (£55 off)
Device Security for up to 5 PCs, Mac, smartphones or tablets.
1st Year into offer, see subscription details.
15. Fitbit Versa 3
Now: £145.99 (£54 off)
Save over £50 on the Fitbit Versa 3 from Amazon. Check colours for different prices.
16. Netgear Netgear Orbi Mesh WiFi System
Now: £214.99 (£114 off)
Pump up your home Wi-Fi with a massive £114 off this quality 3-pack Mesh WiFi system
17. Surfshark Best-Selling VPN Deal: 82% Off
Safeguarding the privacy and safety of you and your family has never been more crucial. Now with one Surfshark subscription for just £1.59/month, you can access the open internet while staying private with our military-grade encryption. Get Surfshark today and receive an additional 2 months for free.
18. TP-Link TP-Link Tapo Indoor Security Wifi Camera with Night Vision
Now: £39.99 (£15 off)
Save £15 off this 2-Pack TP-Link Tapo C100 1080P Indoor Security Wifi Camera with Night Vision – works with Alexa & Google Home
19. Apple iPhone 13 (256GB) - SIM-free
Now: £789 (£90 off)
Amazon has a generous £90 discount on the iPhone 13 with 256GB storage.
Should you wait for Black Friday? Will deals really be better?
With deals already beginning to roll in, you don't really need to wait until 26 November to get your hands on an excellent offer.
Keep an eye on Amazon. Given its prominence, you can pretty accurately glean when sales from other retailers will start by following Amazon's sales schedule. While Amazon doesn't often provide notice before a big sale, unless it's Prime Day, you can be certain if Amazon has deals on a certain product so too will other retailers. Thankfully, for shoppers this means you should be able to get low prices everywhere!
It's also worth noting that it's unlikely prices will reduce further on 26 November if retailers begin Black Friday deals early. Past years have shown retailers generally spread out excellent deals in the week leading up to Black Friday – effectively turning the day into a week-long event.
In fact, if you wait too long, stock might even sell out by the 26th, or you may struggle with getting your goods delivered timely. This appears to be a risk this year especially, due to the delivery truck driver shortage in the UK and the ongoing supply chain crisis that's leaving products stuck at ports.
Our advice is clear: if you see a drastic discount on that Apple Watch or Nintendo Switch console you've been eyeing, you should pick it up! And if prices do go lower on the day...
...Take advantage of price-matching
Remember to hold retailers accountable to their prices. Many retailers, such as Currys PC World offers price-matching against other retailers, whether online or in-store.
In past years, Currys has promised its early Black Friday deals won't have lower prices on Black Friday itself. If you've bought an item from Currys and found a cheaper price elsewhere within 7 days, Currys will refund you the difference. Keep track of Black Friday deals at Currys here.
While Amazon doesn't have a price-matching policy, it does have a strong returns policy. You can return most new and unopened items within 30 days of delivery for a full refund. You also have the statutory right to cancel and order within 14 days of delivery.
If you find your purchase has a lower price just days later, you can always cancel your first order and buy the same item at the lower price and send the original purchase back (if you've received it already). Again, be sure it's unopened, unused and undamaged.
We're certain retailers will continue spreading deals all through the month of November instead of concentrating all their best deals on Black Friday itself. The added benefit of distributing deals over the month is that it also prevents frenzied crowds from gathering in stores and shopping centres.
Will Black Friday happen this year? Will coronavirus cancel Black Friday?
Black Friday 2021 is certainly happening – whether or not another sudden lockdown strikes in November that forces stores to close. As 2020 taught us, limiting in-store shopping doesn't necessarily cancel Black Friday sales, it just means that a lot of the shopping experience happens online instead.
Last year in the US, where Black Friday typically sees large crowds gather outside shops before doors open, Walmart decided it would close all its stores on Thanksgiving Day. Two other major US retailers, Target and Kohl's, also followed suit. Walmart will be doing the same this year.
2020 is sure to have transformed Black Friday forever, with more of a focus on online shopping. However, this year is also different from last, as most people are also now double-vaccinated (or even triple in some cases). This means retailers hungry for foot-traffic will vie for customers to shop in-stores too.
If you want to stay prepared for Black Friday 2021, check out some of our top predictions below...
Top 5 predictions for Black Friday 2021
Below are some of our biggest predictions for Black Friday 2021. You can see our full list of predictions in our What to Expect this Black Friday article.
1. The return on in-store shopping
As we touched on above, it was a lonely time for physical retail through the lockdown. That's sure to change this year due to the vaccine uptake. There's no doubt retailers will want to make the most of their customers' new found freedom with in-store discounts, live demonstrations of products, and other exclusive promotions.
2. Rise of click and collect
2020 also taught us of the convenience of click and collect, where you buy online and pick up in store, or even pay in store. The industry term for this is BOPIS (Buy Online Pay In Store) – something you can bore dinner guests with over Thanksgiving – and this payment method is only expected to grow.
Click and collect saves you on queuing to pay in-store, while also saving you on delivery costs in some cases. We expect more retailers to offer C&C as a payment method this year.
3. More ways to pay: Buy Now Pay Later
Another effect of the pandemic and online shopping has been a surge in Buy Now Pay Later services – and retailers want to cash in.
Services such as Klarna, ClearPay and PayPal Credit allow you to split payments into 3-4 chunks or delay payments without interest (or late fees in some cases). It has its risks if you're unable to pay back, but it is a convenient way to afford the things you want if you don't want to pay in one go.
4. Expect delivery bottlenecks
Let's not forget the nightmare of limited delivery slots when lockdown began. It's likely we might see similar bottlenecks this time round for a few reasons. First up, there's a shortage of HGV drivers in Europe, one that's only exacerbated in the UK due to Brexit.
Then there's the global supply chain crisis in the aftermath of the pandemic, where ports and warehouses are finding it difficult to keep up with surging demands under reduced staff and other resource constraints.
So if you see a compelling deal now, you should probably just pick it up!
5. More QVC-style live shopping deals (keep an eye on social)
This year Currys PC World introduced live-shopping to its site, appropriately called LiveShop. To compete with Prime Day it launched exclusive discounts on Google Nest and Pixel devices which were available only to those who watched the stream.
Liveshopping e-commerce isn't new. It's a huge multi-billion dollar business in China, but it's only just picking up in the global West. Over Prime Day, Amazon US had exclusive discounts through influencer-hosted live shopping events via Amazon Live.
Some brands have also started offering additional discounts through its Instagram and social feeds, so we'd recommend following all your favourite brands (if only temporarily) .
And if you're an Apple fan, see the best Black Friday Apple deals on our sister site Macworld UK