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Black Friday 2020: Shopping amid a raging pandemic might mean even more bargains

Black Friday 2020 is shaping up to be – like 2020 itself – full of uncertainty for retailers and consumers alike.

Everything is up in the air because of the pandemic, with Black Friday 2020 online only in the United Kingdom. France is going as far as convincing Amazon and Carrefour to postpone Black Friday to protect small retailers – shuttered in a lockdown – both from the pandemic and from the American e-commerce monolith.

(In the U.S. and UK, Amazon actually started “Black Friday” sales back in October.)

Amazon France and Carrefour, Europe’s biggest retailer, have agreed to postpone Black Friday discounts until 4 December. They can afford to do that because pandemic shutdowns have shifted power even further to the Amazon and the big European ecommerce companies such Bol.com in the Netherlands and Zalando in Germany.

Financial Times reports Frédéric Duval, head of Amazon France, stated Amazon sales had risen 40-to-50 percent since the French lockdown started at the end of October.

Ah, but the show must go on ….

Thursday, 27 November and Friday, 28 November, are just normal weekdays in Europe while America is celebrating Thanksgiving. Well, they used to be. Starting back in 2015, Europe started buying into the American-style Christmas shopping frenzy with a vengeance, and Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving – became a thing here almost overnight.

The UK is the biggest market for Black Friday in Europe, followed by Germany. But Statista predicts spending will be down dramatically this year across all markets. Which could lead to more competition and price cutting by Christmas.

Locked down, but not necessarily locked out

Amazon.de pretty much brought Black Friday to Europe. Now, all brick and mortar shops on the high streets such as Primark, s. Oliver, C&A, Nike and others are participating in stores and online.

Most of the sales will be running through “Cyber Monday,” and British shoppers alone are projected to spend about 7 billion pounds in total sale. Which is nothing compared to the capital of commercialism, the U.S., where shoppers are projected to spend $148 billion on Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping in 24-hour shopping that always involves fisticuffs.

Remember, most of Europe from the United Kingdom to Portugal is under some degree of shutdown, so consult our guide to pandemic rules here. But brick-and-mortar retailers in the Netherlands, Sweden and other European countries are still wide open and having their own sales.

Expats, your online Black Friday 2020 experience might just turn out to be good for the pocket and more pleasant than browsing through the racks.

Let’s go shopping

Amazon

Might as well get right to it … Amazon is pushing electronics for 2020 with Lightening Sales now through 30 November. That includes their own products such as the Echo Dot, Fire tablets and Kindle readers at give-away prices and their bread-and-butter such as smart/HD televisions.

But our searches shows that Amazon is serving up Instant Pots and other stuff that are hot sellers in the pandemic including Vitamin D, which apparently helps the body fight viruses.

The camelcamelcamel.com Amazon price tracker is a super-handy tool to figure out Amazon’s inconsistent pan-European pricing models.

Amazon has been pushing deeper into the European market, with a bigger choice in the Netherlands starting last year, and new operations in Sweden. (See Dispatches’ guide for shopping national sites here.) The Seattle-based mega-corporation also just opened its first air cargo hub outside the U.S. and Asia. The new European hub is, of course, in Germany, Leipzig to be precise.

Now, the good news for consumers – MediaMarkt and other retailers are matching or beating Amazon prices on hot items such as Apple Watches and Nintendo Switch.

Travel

During our first four years, our biggest category was travel, with every hotel chain and airline offering some kind of discounts. This year … we’re all dressed up with no place to go.

In this pandemic year, we can’t imagine anyone is just impulse-buying travel bargains with all the lockdowns, travel restrictions and quarantine rules. But if you have a plan to stay safe and live somewhere like the Netherlands or Sweden where people are still flying, go for it. And obviously, you can book deals now if you believe the end of the pandemic is nigh and lockdowns will be just an unpleasant memory in the coming year.

If you’re in, there are some crazy Black Friday 2020 deals in our favorite cities.

• As always, Ryanair has an entire page of deals just from British airports including to Stockholm from Standsted for 11.70 pounds; Vienna for 13.09 pounds and Barcelona for 22.69 pounds

You can see all the British deals here.

 • British Airways will offer deals the day of, but they aren’t posted yet.

SkyScanner posted their guide last month, which includes a place you can sign up for email alerts.

• The effortlessly hip W Hotel in Amsterdam, with its fabulous rooftop bar, has staycation offers and other deals with 25 percent and more off room rates. You can see them here.

The Rosewood chain, which has some of the most exclusive hotels in the world, is offering “stay four nights, get one free” deals at the Chillon in Paris and at other properties. Of course, Paris is shut down right now, but the rates are good into the summer … and you can go to some islands in the Caribbean, the Canaries and other destinations if you have proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Forbes has the best 2020 Black Friday travel roundup if you want to go to the States once international travel resumes.

Electronics

Twenty-twenty is pretty much the bane of everyone’s existence, and that includes gamers who thought they were ordering PlayStation 5s from Amazon, but instead got cat food, kitchen appliances or empty boxes. Eurogamer has the story along with their list of the best Black Friday deals for gamers.

In response, Amazon has sent customers in Europe emails stating they’ll have sufficient stocks of PlayStation 5s for Black Friday 2020 and Christmas.

• Apple don’t discount. But you can find deals at places that do in Europe including Ingolstadt, Germany-based discount electronics chain MediaMarkt. They have Apple iPhone 11s for 644 euros and Apple AirPods 2 for as low as 133 euros.

You can see all their Apple Black Friday sales here.

Note – we don’t recommend AMAC stores in the Netherlands, where we’ve had multiple bad experiences.

• Dutch ecommerce website Coolblue has deals through 30 November.

Apparel

• Mango, H&MASOS and Zara – all the Scandi/Spanish fast-fashion apparel retailers, really – have huge online Black Friday sales. And don’t bother going to the stores … they’re all about e-commerce in 2020. 

• Zalando, the Berlin-based e-commerce giant, is really pushing apparel, along with everything else. If people on your Christmas list are into fitness – and who isn’t in a shutdown – you can get lots of workout gear at substantial savings including leggings from Nike and sweats from Adidas.

Here’s the link.

Fashion Outlets

With so many countries under lockdown including Italy, which has the best high-end fashion outlets, the pickings are slim for 2020.

Batavia Stad Fashion, the Netherlands’ original fashion outlet, is having a full 10 days of sales, from 20 November to 29 November.

Designer Outlet Roermond in the Netherlands has a Black Friday sale through 30 November.

National pages

The Netherlands once again has its own website dedicated to tracking Black Friday deals … and you can buy through the website. Ditto for Germany, Sweden, and France.

If you have subscribed to the newsletters of your favorite retailers in Europe, you were greeted recently with 20-percent off or 30-percent off Black Friday discounts in your inbox to make sure you don’t miss them … even if you somehow missed the big Black Friday promotions in shops in downtown shopping streets or your favorite shopping center.

Best references

• The Telegraph has an actual Black Friday Channel and does a great job of tracking bargains for Brits. Oh, and there’s a page of nothing but phone deals. And there are separate pages for apparel and other items.

• TechRadar has a stellar list of bargains in the UK.

Back story

Black Friday historically comes from the 1960s in the United States when retailers wanted to increase their revenue, inventing the Black Friday concept. It’s called “Black Friday” because the all-important Christmas season marks the point retailers generally reach profitability for the year, and bookkeepers enter positive revenue and returns into ledgers in black numbers. (Losses, of course, are recorded in red numbers.)

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