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The National Retail Federation (NRF) anticipates sales of up to $859 billion during the 2021 holiday shopping season, a number that could push Black Friday sales higher than ever, provided pandemic-related supply-chain shortages don't disrupt shopper enthusiasm.
“Pandemic-related supply chain disruptions have caused shortages of merchandise and most of this year’s inflationary pressure,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement. “With the prospect of consumers seeking to shop early, inventories may be pulled down sooner and shortages may develop in the later weeks of the shopping season. However, if retailers can keep merchandise on the shelves and merchandise arrives before Christmas, it could be a stellar holiday sales season.”
With major retailers already saying they will be closed on Thanksgiving Day for 2021, prognosticators at BlackFriday.com expect a repeat of last year's high-traffic online shopping on Thanksgiving Day. Despite predictions of shortages, the folks at BlackFriday.com still expect Black Friday overall sales—including Thanksgiving and the day after—to total $17 billion, a 20% increase over last year.
- Black Friday falls on the day after Thanksgiving.
- Retailers are expected to continue to stretch out Black Friday with online deals on Thanksgiving Day.
- Don't expect doorbuster sales events, even on Black Friday.
- Despite all that, Black Friday sales are expected to be 20% higher than in 2020.
- The economic crisis and lockdown made big impacts on shoppers' habits.
In-Store Shopping Making a Comeback
Last year saw tremendous growth in online shopping over the holidays, mostly due to the pandemic. The NRF predicts that although digital shopping will remain important for 2021, many people are anxious for a return to the hustle and bustle of in-store buying.
Of course, the NRF advises that a COVID breakout, weather, or other factors could disrupt shoppers' best-laid plans. According to the NRF, even the weather may cooperate, given the fact the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a high likelihood of a La Niña pattern of cooler and wetter weather in the north and warmer and drier weather in the south. In the past, this weather pattern has correlated with stronger retail sales during the holidays.
Another plus, according to the NRF: Income is growing and household wealth has reached another high. The retail rise will be driven by high-income ($100K or more) shoppers, who expect to spend 15% more than last year, with an average spend of $2,624, according to the 2021 Deloitte Holiday Retail Survey.
The Deloitte survey also shows that income divisions will be notably stark this holiday, with nearly two-thirds of low-income individuals planning to spend nothing. Middle-income ($50K to $99K) shoppers will be spending about the same as last year ($1,187, up from $1,152). Spending by low-income (less than $50K) shoppers, however, will drop 22% to $536, with 65% of that group planning to spend nothing at all. (Non-spenders in the other two groups were 12% of higher-income shoppers and 23% of middle-income shoppers.)
Four Places to Shop and Save on Black Friday
Whether your Black Friday shopping plans include an online or in-store experience (or both), you still have to decide where to spend your money.
Here are four national chains that offer both of these two types of shopping experiences and are known for offering some of the best Black Friday deals.
Even with multiple ways to shop, Black Friday sale items are always limited and often hard to find. Be prepared to spend time looking for deeply discounted items.
The average Macy's Black Friday discount of 56% puts it at the top of our list for 2021. Some of the best Macy's discounts can be found in small kitchen appliances, home decor, toys, and clothing. For 2021, the chain's Black Friday sale starts Nov. 23 and ends Nov. 27. Stores are closed Thanksgiving Day (although online shopping continues) and reopen on Black Friday at 6 a.m.
Macy's is practically synonymous with Thanksgiving, thanks to its Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Good news! The parade is back in person! Balloons, floats, marching bands, live performances in front of the store, and of course, Santa Claus.
The traditional balloon inflation will return to the Upper West Side of Manhattan the day before Thanksgiving and public viewing on Thanksgiving Day will be available along the traditional 2.5-mile Macy’s parade route.
The 56-page Macy's Black Friday ad includes 60% to 70% off on women's coats, 40% to 50% off on women's boots, special deals on small appliances, and more.
This specialty department store chain offers outstanding deals during Thanksgiving weekend averaging more than 52%. Kohl's best Black Friday deals are in apparel, home decor, smart home gadgets, small kitchen appliances, and toys.
Kohl's will be closed on Thanksgiving Day but open on Black Friday at 5 a.m. The Black Friday week sale begins on Nov. 21 and ends on Nov. 26. Stores will host two days of super deals on Nov. 25 (online) and Nov. 26 (in-store and online).
The store's popular Black Friday Kohl's Cash feature, which issues a future purchase coupon for $15 for every $50 spent (normally $10 for every $50), adds to the savings you receive from Nov. 21 to Nov. 26. Special deals include the Amazon Fire HD 8 for $44.99 (reg. $89.99), the Fitbit Versa 2 smartwatch for $119.99 (reg. $179.99), and up to 60% off on outerwear for the whole family.
Already known for discounted prices, it's not surprising that Walmart's average Black Friday discounts exceed 34%. Walmart's 2021 Black Friday sale starts online on Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. ET and in-store on Nov. 26 (Black Friday) at 5 a.m. local time. According to Walmart, Walmart Plus members will have early access to deals at 3 p.m. ET on Nov. 22. Some notable bargains can be found on Apple Watch, AirPods Pro, Instant Pots, and iRobot Roomba vacuums.
Following the example of most stores, Walmart's physical locations are closed on Thanksgiving Day with online shopping available. Special online Black Friday deals begin at 12 a.m. Friday and stores open at 5 a.m. The store offers online and in-store shopping, curbside pickup at most locations, and home delivery including same day for select items.
Black Friday 2021 deals include a 65-inch Element 4K UHD Roku TV (reg. $649.99) for $299.99—a 46% discount. Also on sale are the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Neon Blue/Red + Mario Kart 8 Deluxe + 3 Month Online Bundle for $299.99 and the KitchenAid Professional 5qt Stand Mixer—KV25G0X for $219.99 (reg. $429.99).
Faithful shoppers believe they can't go wrong with Target and the store's average 27% Black Friday discount may be all the proof they need. For Black Friday 2021, Target's sale starts in stores and online on Nov. 21 and ends on Nov. 27. Deals include Apple Watches, AirPods, KitchenAid mixers, and Dyson vacuums, to name just a few.
Stores are closed on Thanksgiving, though online shopping is available, and most stores open Black Friday at 7 a.m. Target lets you shop online for home delivery (same day for select items), for in-store pickup, or in-store during regular store hours.
As was the case last year, Target provides extra shopper protection by offering to match prices if the Target price goes lower before Dec. 24. This applies to everything in the company's 60-page Black Friday ad, including a 65-inch Element 4K UHD Roku TV (reg. $649.99) for $299.99 at the 46% discount; the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Neon Blue/Red + Mario Kart 8 Deluxe + 3 Month Online Bundle for $299.99; and the KitchenAid Professional 5qt Stand Mixer—KV25G0X for $219.99 (reg. $429.99).
What Are the Best Black Friday Deals for 2021?
According to Adobe Analytics, Black Friday 2021 will offer the best deals on furniture, bedding, tools, and home improvement.
What Will Be the Biggest Challenge to Shoppers and Stores on Black Friday 2021?
Supply chain issues and out-of-stock items are expected to cause the most frustration in 2021. Close behind that will be lower discounts than consumers are used to.
Will Stores Be Open on Thanksgiving 2021?
No. According to the National Retail Federation, the majority of brick-and-mortar stores will be closed, but most will have an online presence and heavy online shopping is expected.
The Bottom Line
In the days directly before and after the Thanksgiving holiday, hundreds of retailers advertise rock-bottom prices and out-of-this-world deals. If recent history is any indicator, however, you’ll probably get the biggest bang for your Black Friday buck at these four retailers.