Black Friday 2017 in the US is going to be filled with so many online deals that it'll be one of the biggest single shopping day of the entire year.
It's the day when stores like Amazon, Walmart and Target discount everything with Black Friday ads that leaks days before the actual sale date, which is always the day after Thanksgiving.
At least, that's how it worked last year. Black Friday 2017 could easily top what we spent back then: $3.34 billion shopping online alone, making it the first time ever online spending on Black Friday surpassed $3 billion.
Target was shifting 3,200 TVs per minute on Black Friday, and in the first few hours of Black Friday, Amazon had sold over 100,000 children’s toys.
Of the $3.34 billion in online sales, $1.2 billion of that came from people using mobile devices. The most popular purchases? iPads and Samsung 4K TVs.
It’s ironic that Black Friday drives so much traffic to websites, because it used to be about more traditional traffic: in-store crowds. Black Friday still happens in shopping malls across the country, but increasingly the best Black Friday deals – and the most shoppers – are online.
When is Black Friday 2017?
Black Friday is the Friday immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday, so this year's Black Friday will be on November 24, 2017.
It’s the official start to the holiday shopping season, and it’s famous for what retailers call “doorbusters”: deals so good that shoppers will try and break down the front doors to get at them. Inevitably that means it’s also famous for shoppers battling one another, with each Black Friday bringing a new bunch of YouTube clips showing people fighting over flat-screen TVs.
Despite the chaos, Black Friday continues at just about all the major US retailers every year. Many even open start the bargains on Thanksgiving to give shoppers a chance to grab the best deals even earlier. Last year, $1.9 billion was spent online on Thanksgiving Day, bringing the two-day Thanksgiving and Black Friday total to over $5 billion.
Why Black Friday matters
Black Friday has transformed the holiday shopping season, for better and for worse. James Miller, senior retail consultant at Experian Marketing Services, told the BBC that “there is little doubt Black Friday has dramatically changed the way people shop in the run-up to Christmas and has created an expectation of deep discounts that arguably did not exist before,” while a report by LCP Consulting found that nearly one-third of US retailers believe Black Friday is “unprofitable and unsustainable."
Before Black Friday became a big deal, the run-up to the holidays was a great period for retailers: we’d buy loads of presents for others and for ourselves, and retailers would make huge piles of money. Then Black Friday happened, and all of a sudden many of us were browsing the bargains for the presents to put in Santa’s sack. Money spent on deeply discounted products in November is money that won’t be spent on more profitable products in December.
According to research by Verdict Retail, there is “no evidence” that Black Friday “stimulated demand”: Black Friday is essentially a black hole that sucks in a big part of people’s pre-Christmas shopping. We buy more but pay less for it.
The National Retail Federation has numbers to back that up; according to the group, shoppers spent less on average over the 2016 Thanksgiving weekend, though that was largely because items were so deeply discounted. Amazon led the way with an average of 42% off items available on its digital storefront, according to Reuters.
“It was a strong weekend for retailers, but an even better weekend for consumers, who took advantage of some really incredible deals,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “In fact, over one third of shoppers said 100% of their purchases were on sale.”
As online shopping overtakes in-store shopping on Black Friday, mobile is playing an increasingly important role. Many retailers reported significant leaps in mobile shopping last year, and it was the first-time ever shopping via phones and tablets topped $1 billion in the US. That's a 33% increase in mobile shopping over Black Friday 2015.
Black Friday 2017 won't be so crazy
While Black Friday of years' past may have spelled mayhem, with more people shopping online than in stores, the main thing you'll have to worry about on Black Friday 2017 is whether stock will run out, not whether you'll be bowled over by a shopping cart.
Retailers, too, will have to be prepared for an increase in online shoppers on Black Friday 2017. Macy's wasn't prepared for the traffic that came to its website on Black Friday 2016, and shoppers were kept off the site at several points during the day. Not good.
This year, expect major retails to be well prepared for even higher online traffic, especially on mobile.
What's more, just like Black Friday 2016, there will likely be lots of savings spread out over the week, not just on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Last year, many big-name retailers spread their sales over an entire week from the Monday before Black Friday to Cyber Monday 2017, the Monday immediately after.
Cyber Monday used to be a separate event, the day everybody panicked that they hadn't bought any presents before visiting Amazon on their work computers. But in 2016, it was just another part of Black Friday Deals Week.
“There is no question that heavy discounting early in the holiday sales season, both online and in stores, along with retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day have cut into Black Friday sales,’’ NRF spokesperson Ana Serafin Smith told USA Today. “However, Black Friday remains the official kick-off to the holidays and an important tradition for millions of shoppers across the country. There is no indication that will change in the foreseeable future.’’
During what some call the Cyber Five weekend (Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday), Internet Retailer (via CommerceHub) estimated Amazon sold more than $4.7 billion. That's a lot of Amazon Echo speakers, GoPro cameras, and other goods!
With deals spread out over several days, Black Friday has lost some of its influence as the biggest shopping day of the year. Still, retailers reserve some of their best bargains for Black Friday, so it's well worth keeping an eye on the day.
The best Black Friday deals from last year
Every year, we load up with pizza and energy drinks to scour the entire internet for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. These were some of our favorite deals from Black Friday from a year ago.
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus for $0 + gift card
Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus may have been new but that didn’t mean you couldn’t get a Black Friday deal. T-Mobile was selling the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus for $0 and giving away $250 gift cards when shoppers signed up for a two-year contract.
$50 off PS4 with Uncharted 4 bundle
The PS4 is a brilliant console, and last Black Friday it was a brilliant bargain too: the best-selling console bundle was $50 off for the PS4 500GB with Uncharted 4 at Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, Target and more, bringing its price to $249.
$150 off iPad Pro 9.7
There were lots of iPad bargains on Black Friday 2017 including $150 off the iPad Pro 9.7 and $70 off the iPad mini 2. Apple wasn’t offering those discounts, but it did bundle gift cards with various products.
$1,301 off Sony Ultra HD 4K TV
How’s this for a discount: Black Friday meant a massive $1,301 off the Sony 65" XBR Ultra 4K LED Smart HDTV, bringing its price down to a much less scary $998. There was also $400 off Samsung 4K TVs and over $200 off LG 4K OLED TVs.
Huge savings on Xbox One bundles
The Xbox One S was just $299 with Battlefield 1 or Gears of War 4 thrown in, or an even cheaper $249 for a non-special edition console. Prices were slashed all over the place for every conceivable combination of console, controllers and games. There were good deals to be had on accessories too.
Why to expect from Black Friday 2017
Last Black Friday had some of the most ambitious deals we've seen to date, so expect even deeper discounts in 2017. In addition to greater markdowns on Black Friday, retailers will try to beat their own savings – and each other – with better deals even earlier. What started as Black Friday weekend has become Black Friday week, and this year we expect some big-name retailers to start discounting long before that.
That makes sense for many reasons: it spreads the load on their websites and stores, and more importantly it means the news of their deals won’t be buried amid the avalanche of Black Friday announcements. So keep your eyes peeled – and keep visiting our deals page – from early November, and maybe even earlier than that.
Something we saw a lot of in 2016 and expect to see even more of in 2017 is a sliding scale of discounting: we noticed deals got bigger and better as the month progressed. That’s likely to happen again in 2017, with reasonable deals at the beginning of the Black Friday period and more exciting but limited quantity deals on Black Friday itself. The emphasis will be on the more expensive products where retailers can cut prices but still make a decent profit.
Best Black Friday deal 2017 predictions
We know that Apple’s 2017 iPhone 8 is likely to be dramatically different from the current model, we can reasonably expect it to go on sale in September or October at the latest, and we know that iPhone 8 Black Friday deals will be very popular – so this one’s a slam-dunk. Expect similar discounts to 2016 chopping $100-plus off the up-front price, and Apple to offer gift cards across the range. We’d expect some decent deals on iPads too as Apple has already refreshed its line-up this year.
Samsung Galaxy S8
Black Friday 2016 saw really good deals on the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, with retailers charging $0 with a contract plus throwing in a gift card and Samsung Gear VR for free. These were a fantastic deals, and we’re expecting to see similarly great Galaxy deals on the Samsung Galaxy S8 in 2017.
Black Friday 2016 was all about the PS4 Slim, and Black Friday 2017 will be all about the PS4 Pro. As with 2016 we’d expect the very best deals to be on bundles, with some of them costing only a little more than the PS4 Pro itself, so start working on your game wish list: a bundle’s only a good deal if it includes the games you actually want to play. Up to now, the PS4 Pro is holding its MSRP but you can expect that to change later this year, particularly when Microsoft has launched the Xbox One X…
Xbox One X
Microsoft’s got a pro console too, and unless something goes wrong with the release schedule it will be on sale long on November 7 - right in time for Black Friday 2017. As with the Xbox One in 2016 we’d expect to see the very best deals on bundles, rather than on the console itself: there’s more wiggle room for the retailer there, so they can afford to be more daring with the discounts.
4K HDR OLED TVs
Black Friday 2016 was positively packed with TV deals, including nearly half-price deals on select TVs. High-end sets are where the really expensive MSPRs are, and the ever-advancing world of TV tech means those prices can only be sustained for a fairly short time. If you’re in the market for the kind of TV with a price tag that wouldn’t look out of place on a car, Black Friday 2017 could be a very good day for you indeed.
Black Friday 2017 FAQ: what it is, when it happens and where to get the best deals
What is Black Friday?
Black Friday is the Friday immediately after Thanksgiving. It’s a day when retailers offer big discounts to kick-start the holiday shopping season.
When is Black Friday 2017?
Black Friday 2017 will be Friday, November 24. What is Cyber Monday? Cyber Monday is the Monday immediately after Black Friday.
When is Cyber Monday 2017?
Cyber Monday 2017 will be on Monday, November 27. What is Black Friday deals week? It’s the week that includes Black Friday. Retailers are increasingly offering deals before and after Black Friday itself so they stand out from the crowd.
Are Black Friday deals real?
Yes, although in some cases the discounts have been negotiated well in advance with suppliers. As with any sales you’ll see a mix of genuine bargains, discounted end-of-line stock and mysterious things found in the back of a warehouse somewhere. In other words, alongside all those shiny new consoles, you'll also see deals on random items like cheese graters and shaving razors.
Where can I find the best Black Friday deals?
Right here on TechRadar of course! We scour all the top retailers’ Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals so that you don’t have to – and we tell you whether the deals are worth getting excited about too. Whether it’s a 4K HDR OLED TV or an Xbox One controller, if it’s discounted we’ll have the details here.
How do I get the best Black Friday 2017 deals?
Know what you want, know what you can afford to spend and know the market: you’ll often see retailers charging higher than usual prices in October so they can offer amazing discounts on Black Friday. Pay particular attention to real prices, not MSRPs: TVs are notorious for this, with sets having a suggested retail price of several thousand dollars routinely selling for a few hundred.
Sites such as CamelCamelCamel, PriceGrabber and Become and PriceSpy will help tell you if you’re looking at a legitimate bargain as well as track deals on items you want to buy.
It’s also a very good idea to be flexible: for example, if you want a Sony 4K TV then think about the features you want rather than a specific model number: the BRV123ABD54-88C-9218-B may not be discounted on Black Friday, but an almost identical set with the specification you want probably will be.
Can I get cashback on Black Friday deals?
Sometimes, yes. Your debit card or credit card may offer cashback on purchases, and sites such as Ebates offer cashback for customers of big-name online shops. It’s definitely worth looking into, not just for Black Friday but for any online shopping.
Am I protected when I buy on Black Friday?
Yes. In the US, anything you buy from a company online is covered by a wealth of consumer protection legislation including the Fair Credit Billing Act. This bill lets you dispute a charge or stop payment under certain circumstances while the retailer is being investigated, according to the FTC.
How can I stay safe on Black Friday?
Black Friday brings out the scammers as well as the sellers, so be wary of unsolicited emails or links to deals on social media no matter how legitimate they look: anything asking for credit card details or login details is a scam. Phishing sites do big business on Black Friday, so be extra suspicious – and if you’re on a PC, make sure your security software is up to date. Many suites automatically block known scam sites.