We really should start putting some money aside, because the Black Friday deals are coming folks. In a year where we're all finding time moves a little differently, we've gone from enjoying sunny spells to suddenly talking about that shopping season once again. So if you've had your eye on a few treat-yo-self purchases or have Christmas gift-shopping in-mind we'll be here to steer you towards the hottest deals.
We've been covering big online retailer events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Amazon Prime Day deals, and public holiday weekend sales for years now, so we know a great deal when we see one and won't be fooled by misleading discounts. More to the point we've done our research, hands-on testing, and reviews across a wide range of items, so we can tell you what items are worth keeping an eye out for in the sales and what's worth picking up if you see a price cut.
We've always focused on the online Black Friday sales because we've always found the in-store experience to be a massive disappointment. Sure, watching morons fight over a truly terrible, and overpriced, clearance TV from a brand nobody has ever heard of before that day is fun, don't get us wrong, but we like to take our time when shopping for those primo Black Friday deals on items you'll enjoy using for a long time afterward.
In the US, you'll actually find many of the big retailers are going to be closed on Black Friday, November 27th, which falls the day after Thanksgiving. This is a smart move to avoid crowds of people all crushing together during a pandemic, but more to the point it gives all the staff some well-deserved time off after, frankly, working incredibly hard to keep us all fed and able to buy items to make the lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders more bearable during the, still sadly ongoing, Coronavirus pandemic. Seriously shop workers, a massive thanks from all of us here at GamesRadar.
The Black Friday deals have us particularly excited for seeing the PS5 bundles and Xbox Series X deals fight it out. While the PS5 date is still shrouded in secrecy, Microsoft recently announced prices for the Xbox Series X and finally confirmed the existence of the super cheap Series S too. The Xbox Series S pre-orders and Xbox Series X pre-orders are set to go live from September 22 actually with a November 10 release date for both. All these consoles will still be very new on Black Friday, but fierce competition between Sony and Microsoft may well lead to some reduced bundles.
When is Black Friday 2020?
Black Friday takes place on Friday, November 27, the day after Thanksgiving in the US. The Black Friday sales event is now something of a global affair, with particular appeal in the West. The UK in particular has adopted the sales attached to the holiday with great enthusiasm.
That doesn't necessarily mean all the best deals will be reserved for the Friday itself though. Actually many retailers start releasing their deals from the Monday before in an effort to steal a march on their competitors. Last year we even saw some commit to their prices by saying they would not go lower on sale items on Black Friday, adding an extra layer of assurance that buyers could make a purchase without the dreaded remorse of seeing it cheaper a few days later. So to be clear, expect most sales to be underway by November 23.
Why you should care about Black Friday
The stores might be closed, but you can expect Walmart, Best Buy, and Target's websites to be going gangbusters with deals on TVs, headphones, iPads, smartwatches, consoles, video games, mobile phones, smart speakers and loads more.
Oh yes, the slight matter of console deals this Black Friday. We're expecting the PS5 bundles and Xbox Series X deals to be amongst the most sought-after items on Black Friday as they're both currently due to be released sometime in November (hopefully way before Black Friday or we'll be rather distracted when we should be bringing you the latest deals).
It's not all about the new consoles though. Last year surely belonged to the Nintendo Switch, but Nintendo really needs to get its act together as Switches have been sold out in most countries around the world for the last few months, so we might not have any Switch stock at all around the holidays at this rate.
Apple fans should arguably wait for the Black Friday deals before making any new purchases if they can hold on. Over the last few years, we've seen some fantastic prices on its popular AirPods. The AirPods Pro were a bit too new last year to get a chunky discount, but they're ripe for one during Black Friday 2020, we actually saw $50 off in a sale just last week! We're expecting the iPhone 12 to land in the next few months, so there could be some hot contract deals as the retailers try and outdo each other. The iPhone SE (2020) and iPhone 11 range might be the ones sneaking in with the best deals though. The Apple Watch 3 has been getting amazing prices for a year or two now, but we've got our eyes on the Apple Watch 5 for some all-time low prices, especially if the Apple Watch 6 decides to show up soon. And it would be rude not to with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 looking to top best smartwatch lists at sites around the world.
Speaking of AirPods, Black Friday is absolute heaven for audio fans with in-ear, over-ear, and on-ear headphones all getting some of the best prices of the year. And with Sony replacing itself on top of most guides to the best headphones by releasing the brand-new Sony WH-1000XM4 noise-canceling headphones, many audiophiles will be hoping for some money off that lofty $349/£349 pricetag.
Will the Black Friday deals be as good this year?
It's been a strange year for retail. Online sales were booming during the early months of the pandemic as people kitted out a sudden home office, or bulked up their home entertainment centers with the prospect of lots of nights in at home. Online grocery shopping has become bigger than ever too.
Many of these popular online stores were forced to close their bricks and mortar outlets for months though, meaning that many of them have struggled financially. So some may find themselves in a position where they can't really afford to offer discounts as large as originally planned.
Amazon's dominance, particularly in the US, is of course less affected by such issues and will be the store to beat when it comes to the best Black Friday deals on a huge range of categories.
Will prices drop even lower after Black Friday?
It's always a possibility depending on how much a retailer needs to attract extra purchases. If their Black Friday underperforms, then they might have the budget to eat into profit margins a bit more to encourage a sale.
If you're worried about buying something on Black Friday, then seeing it go for less in the run up to Christmas it'll pay to be a little savvy. Check the store's return policies, you may find you can simply return it for a full refund so you're free to buy the cheaper version instead.
Most stores are pretty flexible on returns. We'd avoid opening any boxes or breaking any seals to improve your chances here, but check with individual stores before buying elsewhere, don't just assume they'll let you return it because you've changed your mind.
Are all Black Friday retailers safe to buy from?
As with any big sale season, there are dodgy merchants and retailers to be aware of. Even on Amazon we're used to seeing some offers that are clearly to good to be true. If it's not sold direct by Amazon, you can click on the merchant's profile and see its star ratings from past purchases. Any merchants that have only been created in the last couple of days and haven't yet built up any feedback should be treated with caution. You can use the same approach on eBay too.
You can use the Trust Pilot website as well if it's a website you've not bought from before and aren't sure if they're legit. Or if Trust Pilot doesn't have a rating, simply Googling the store name and add 'reviews' to it will usually come up with some customer experience feedback.
Stores on social media like Facebook or Instagram are the main threats we've seen on the rise this year with shoddy goods. Often times you'll see items promoted that end up not being the ones in the video, or the 'influencer' hasn't even used them properly as the world of 'dropshipping' seems to be getting bigger all the time in our feeds. Some celebrity influencers have even been caught out accidentally promoting fake branded goods too with designer clothes and fake AirPods being popular picks for scammers.
But this is why we're here to help. We're used to deal hunting throughout the year. So we know what stores are going to have great deals, but more importantly, which ones are reliable and trustworthy. If a deal doesn't look right to us or we think the merchant isn't legit, you won't find us including it on this guide to the best Black Friday deals. If we wouldn't buy it, it's not getting in.
Stay tuned to GamesRadar where we'll be updating this page the closer we get to Black Friday with news on the latest offers and the best sales. If you're wanting to check out some offers today though, head on over to our latest Deal News pieces or Buying Guides where we roundup the best of the best in a wide range of categories and compare prices from the top online retailers.