Though the event doesn't arrive until November, many are already wondering what Black Friday 2021 will look like.
While the UK lifted all restrictions on 19 July, meaning indoor and high street shopping is now in full swing again, it doesn't mean the thrust towards online shopping we saw through the pandemic will go away. In fact, it's likely to stay. Not everyone will be comfortable shopping in-store amidst large crowds, and the luxury of effortless next-day delivery may be too tempting when the alternative is to jostle a crowd.
Not all retailers are encouraging indoor shopping on Black Friday either. 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.
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.
Some retailers like Amazon and Currys PC World often have early Black Friday deals with top discounts arriving a week or two before Black Friday.
In fact, Dell started a Black Friday in July sale with up to 40% off laptops, monitors and desktop PCs. Don't forget, if you're a student you can get a 15% discount from Dell too. See our full guide to Dell's student discount.
Best deals online right now
1. Voxi 20GB data with Endless Social Media & Video
Was: (was 15GB data)
Now: £15 per month
Voxi is offering 20GB of data for £15 per month. It's an excellent deal with unlimited social media and video streaming, including unlimited access to TikTok!
2. OnePlus Nord N10 5G (6GB RAM/128GB storage)
Now: £249 (£80 off)
The affordable Nord N10 with 5G connectivity is now £80 cheaper ahead of the Nord 2 launch.
3. Fitbit Versa 3
Now: £165.13 (£34.86 off)
Amazon is offering over £30 off the pink model of the Versa 3, which comes with GPS, heart-rate monitoring and voice assistant.
4. Fitbit Sense
Now: £244 (£55 off)
Save £55 on the Sense from Amazon – a deal that outdoes Fitbit's own sale.
5. Samsung Galaxy Book Flex (Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD)
Now: £959 (£390 off)
The fabulous Galaxy Book Flex received 4.5/5 stars in our review and a Recommended Badge – and now with nearly £400 off, it's even easier to recommend.
6. OnePlus Nord (12GB RAM, 256GB)
Now: £375.47 (£93.53 off)
OnePlus' superb re-entry into the mid-range market in 2020, the OnePlus Nord, is already a great example of value-for-money, but this discount on the higher RAM/storage SKU found on Amazon makes a good deal even better. (There's also currently a discount on the 8GB RAM model and other colourways too.) See our full coverage.
7. Three 5G Hub Broadband with free 43in LG 4K Smart TV
Now: £30 per month (£399 off LG TV)
Pick up 5G broadband from Three for £30 per month. The offer also includes a free 43in LG 4K Smart TV which currently costs £399 if you buy from LG directly (usually £499).
8. OnePlus 8 Pro + Free Google Stadia
Was: From £799
Now: From £499 (£300 off + £89 off Stadia Premiere Edition)
Our Phone of the Year 2020, the OnePlus 8 Pro boasts top-tier specs, including 12GB of RAM, and this higher-capacity 256GB model comes with a sizeable discount, courtesy of Amazon. Now get £300 off and a free Google Stadia Premiere Edition!
9. Discovery+: Free for 6 months
Now: Free for Vodafone customers (£29.94 off)
Vodafone customers on a pay monthly plan can access Discovery+ for free for six months.
10. Xiaomi Mi 11 (8GB/128GB) + Free Mi Watch
From: Affordable Mobiles
Now: £44 per month (£119 off Mi Watch)
Mi 11 is Xiaomi's current flagship, making this an awesome deal - check out our full review. Pick it up from Affordable Mobiles with no upfront costs and a free Mi Watch worth £119!
11. Samsung Galaxy S21 (8GB RAM, 256GB)
Now: £729 (£90 off)
The higher storage capacity build of Samsung's 2021 flagship enjoys a £90 discount off the RRP in this Amazon deal. Discount varies by colour, check before purchase.
12. Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
Now: £776 (£123 off)
The Surface Pro 7 might have launched in 2019, but it remains an excellent 2-in-1 PC. That's especially true in this deal, which drops the i5 model with 8GB RAM and a 128GB SSD to £776 - that's a saving of over £120 on the RRP. The same model is available from the Microsoft Store for the full £899.
13. Apple iPhone 12 (64GB)
Now: £679 (£120 off)
Currys is offering £120 off the iPhone 12, along with 5 months Apple Music, Apple Arcade and Apple News+ free and 3 month of Apple TV+.
14. Apple iPhone 12 mini (128GB)
Now: £629 (£120 off)
The 128GB iPhone 12 also gets an impressive £120 off. The stock is expected to return within 1-2 months if you don't mind waiting.
15. Hive Active Heating Thermostat
Now: £144.99 (£34.01 off)
Save up on this Hive smart thermostat system which lets you control your heating direct from your mobile. Hive has its own sale at the moment, but Amazon's price is cheaper.
16. Lenovo 13in Ideapad S540 Laptop (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD)
Now: £550 (£223.99 off)
This "web exclusive" price from Lenovo saves you £224 off the RRP, dropping the price from premium to mid-range. Not too shabby.
17. Microsoft 365 Family + Norton 360 Deluxe (15 months)
Now: £59.97 (£124 off)
The same bunlde had £138 off over Prime Day, but £124 off is still a great discount which you can pick up without a Prime account. This Microsoft 365 for Family bundle with Norton 360 Deluxe includes 3 extra months (usually 12 months).
18. Samsung Galaxy Buds+
Now: £79 (£80 off)
Amazon is selling 2020's Samsung Galaxy Buds+ for just under £80. It's not as low as the Prime Day price of £59, but it's still a decent saving.
19. Ring Alarm 5 Piece Kit
Now: £129 (£90 off for Prime Members)
This is a great saving on Amazon's second-generation Ring Alarm 5 Piece Kit for home security.
20. Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS + Cellular, 44mm)
Now: $369.55 ($59.45 off)
US shoppers can save nearly $60 on the 40mm Apple Watch 6 with GPS and Cellular from Walmart
Should you wait for Black Friday? Will deals really be better?
With deals rolling in earlier and earlier, you don't really need to wait until 26 November to get your hands on an excellent offer. We're confident that solid discounts will start appearing well before then.
One quick and dirty trick is to 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!
Last year it held Prime Day from 13 to 14 October effectively kicking off the end of year sale season. This year, Amazon's Prime Day arrived earlier than usual, over 21 to 22 June – but that could suggest another October Prime Day may be on the cards. Amazon has previously considered having a second autumnal Prime Day, though it's unclear whether that's still the case. Still, given how profitable the event is for the retailer, it's entirely possible.
Whether or not Amazon has Prime Day ahead of Black Friday sales, or whether it dives right into Black Friday deals in November, it's unlikely prices will reduce further on 26 November. 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. 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 unopned, 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?
With uncertainty around whether restrictions may return later in the year, many are asking: Is Black Friday 2021 canceled?
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.
Limiting in-store shopping doesn't mean Black Friday sales are canceled. It does indicate, however, that a lot of the shopping experience will be happening online.
Last year Walmart served Black Friday deals over the entire month of November in three separate deals events. Similarly, Target launched its Black Friday deals all through November with new offers each week.
Black Friday will just happen differently and shoppers keen on bagging a top deal on an iPad, AirPods, or the new PS5 or Xbox Series X will need to be more prepared for changes, some of which we're predicting below...
Top 8 predictions for Black Friday 2021
1. Restricted in-store sales
In the UK, depending on whether or not the country returns to a lockdown, and where in-store Black Friday shopping is typically less frenzied than in the US, we might see large retailers restricting in-store traffic as opposed to shutting down entirely like Walmart.
That might mean shoppers will need to queue one or two meters apart outside stores. Elderly and at-risk shoppers may have a scheduled window ahead of other shoppers, similar to the restrictions supermarkets had in place when the UK's lockdown began in March 2020.
While it's no longer illegal to be unmasked indoors, you might be denied entry if the retailer has set its own preferences and restrictions.
2. Rise of click and collect
Retailers might also encourage click-and-collect instead of in-store browsing and shopping. This might be include incentives like discounts or bundles.
In the same vein, contract-free delivery might be encouraged to limit people from going in-store with free next-day delivery promo codes on electricals or order values above a certain amount.
3. More QVC-style live shopping deals (keep an eye on social)
This year Currys PC World introduced liveshopping to its site, appropriately called LiveShop. To compete with Prime Day it launched exclusive discounts on Google Nest and Pixel devices which were avaialble 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 (if only temporarily) all your favourite brands.
4. 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 purchases. 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).
There are risks associated with such payment methods (see our full guide to Klarna) if you're unable to pay off your purchase, but given the popularity of such services, you're likely to see more of them at checkout over Black Friday, or retailers developing similar payment options.
5. Slower delivery times
Let's not forget the nightmare of limited delivery slots when lockdown began. It's very likely we might see similar bottlenecks this time round with a greater volume of people opting to shop online.
At the start of the first lockdown in 2020, Amazon limited its deliveries to priority items for at-risk customers. This meant items that qualified for free next-day delivery via Amazon Prime still took several days if not weeks to arrive.
While delivery systems are now more equipped to deal with shortages, it's still worth thinking about setbacks. Just because you've beaten the crowd and bought that last 43in OLED 4K HD TV, it doesn't mean you'll get it in time for Christmas or the holidays (which is another reason to buy early if you see a good deal ahead of Black Friday).
6. Lottery systems
It wouldn't surprise us if at-the-door hustle and bustle moved online entirely, with shoppers clamoring to sign up for limited-person slots for in-store shopping. Retailers might introduce a lottery system to allow a few people at a time into the store first.
You'll probably need to enter such lotteries by email – so additionally, be prepared for newsletters on offers and savings.
7. More exclusive deals online and better offers
Of course, the biggest change we might see is better discounts online than in-store. This may not be surprising, given that the volume of online shopping has dramatically increased since the pandemic began. A Statista study showed global e-commerce traffic ballooned by 6% from January to March 2020.
More people are now familiar and comfortable with online shopping. The pandemic may have even converted skeptics – all of which means there will be loads more people eyeing deals online than in-store and retailers are likely to respond to this.
Expect to see more "online exclusive" Black Friday prices, codes, and vouchers.
8. Slower online experience
With more offers online, you can expect incredibly high volumes of traffic on your favourite retailers' sites. Brace yourself for being pushed into virtual waiting rooms like Queue-it – especially if you're after consoles like the PS5 (here's where to buy it).
This means you will just need to be more targeted with your shopping. Shop by the product instead of the retailer, so you have other options if the site you're looking at has any difficulties.
Most retailers offer the same prices across the board once sales go into full swing – and if there is a price difference it probably won't be more than a few pence or pound here and there. Amazon for instance often offers devices like the Fitbit at just 99p less than Currys PC World.
And if you're an Apple fan, see the best Black Friday Apple deals on our sister site Macworld UK