Black Friday shopping deals are happening earlier and more online than in previous years. Those trends will affect Latinos, who are expected to spend big for the holidays in 2020, despite the economic impact of COVID-19. Photo credit: Marco Verch/Flickr

Latinos looking for discount deals in their holiday shopping will notice a lot of changes for 2020. And not all of them are related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus is changing the way some big retailers approach Black Friday and the shopping season that runs from October through December. Social distancing, mask requirements, and curbside options will still be going strong as the CDC has warned that shopping crowds are high-risk.

But some of what retail experts expect this year follows trends that were already happening before the pandemic. Those trends include earlier Black Friday deals over multiple weeks, a bigger emphasis on online-only deals, and more shipping and store pickup options as big-box stores like Target continue to battle against online retailers for holiday dollars.

Latinos represent about $1.7 trillion in purchasing power in the U.S., according to Ris News, and those who are shopping for the holidays often are seeking innovative products, according to Small Business Trends. That could include smartphones to keep in touch with family and friends, HDTVs, cooking gadgets such as the popular Instant Pot, and toys. 

Latinos are more likely to try new products from small businesses and startups and care about whether products are sustainably produced, Small Business Trends said in a January study.

Black Friday, the shopping event that usually begins as Thanksgiving winds down, has traditionally been about “doorbuster” deals and big crowds, like in this photo from 2013. But that’s shifting to more of an extended, and mostly online, shopping season for 2020. Photo credit: Powhusku/Flickr

Even though unemployment is still high among Latinos and many are struggling with their finances, retail spending is still going up steadily going into the holidays. Even as families tighten their spending, experts believe holiday shopping will still grow this year.

Experts say that many shoppers have gotten more accustomed to making the most of their purchases online and that will accelerate a trend that was already happening in recent years with Black Friday. About 80% of Latinos, for example, say they use mobile phones to do research on items they’re buying, even when they shop in person, says RIS. As more big-box retailers offer curbside pickup at the stores, more sales are expected to occur through apps and on shopping websites this year.

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Omar L. Gallaga is a freelance journalist living in Central Texas who has written for NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, Engadget, Hispanic Magazine, CNN, MSNBC, and The Washington Post. He was a longtime technology and culture writer at The Austin American-Statesman, where he helped launch the newspaper ¡ahora sí! and two podcasts.