Black Friday shoppers happy to queue online for hours

News, Retail

With the vast majority of Black Friday purchases likely to be made on the internet this year due to lockdown,  shoppers say they are willing to wait over an hour in an online queue if it means saving £200, new research from reveals.

The closure of non-essential stores due to lockdown is set to drive shoppers online, meaning that virtual queues could be a feature of this year’s event. Some 24 million people — almost half of consumers (46%) — say they will be taking part in the annual sale this year, but while seven in ten (70%) shoppers aged 18 to 34 will join the hunt for bargains, only a fifth (22%) of over-55s will do so.

Almost a quarter of people (24%) say they would be willing to wait longer than an hour in an online queue for a £200 discount, and 4% of Black Friday shoppers say they would happily spend six hours waiting.

Many people will take advantage of the fact they are working from home, with one in six (17%) saying they will wait in online queues while on the job. A fifth of consumers (18%) will practise yoga or exercise at home while they sit in a virtual queue, while almost three in ten people (29%) will play games on their phone, and 15% will laze in bed. 

Top 10 activities to pass the time in an online queue

Percentage of people planning to do them

Play games on mobile phone


Look-up more Black Friday deals


Life admin tasks, such as paying bills


Phone or text a friend/family member


Read a newspaper/online news website


Practice yoga or exercise at home


Working from home


Stay in bed


Personal meditation and mindfulness


Home exercise



Shoppers might be advised to use any time spent in an online queue to carefully consider their planned purchase, as four in ten people (40%) admit regretting a Black Friday purchase. Nevertheless, despite millions rueing a previous Black Friday purchase, only 14% of these say that they would return what they had bought. 

Online shoppers are more likely to compare purchases than high street consumers, with three in five web browsers (59%) visiting three or more stores to check the price of a prospective purchase, while half of those buying in-person (51%) considering only one or two shops. On average, web shoppers spent 17.3 minutes deciding on a purchase, five minutes longer than high street consumers who deliberated for only 12.6 minutes.  

The iPhone 12 — launched by Apple last month — is expected to be one of this year’s must-have Black Friday gadgets, with three in ten people (30%) looking for one in the sales. However, seven in ten of those after an iPhone 12 would only take the plunge if it was discounted by 25% or more.

Top 10 wish list items for Black Friday 2020

iPhone 12

Playstation 5

Amazon Echo Dot

Xbox Series X

Robot vacuum cleaner

Nintendo Switch

Apple AirPods

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Smart TV

Wireless headphones


The current lockdown in England means that many big retailers and smaller, independent shops will be closed to the public on Black Friday. Larger stores are more likely to pull in the virtual crowds this year, with four in five (83%) people expecting to visit the sites of major retailers, and only a third (38%) planning to visit those of independent stores.

Says Catherine Hiley, Black Friday deals expert at

“Black Friday is likely to feel more like Cyber Monday this year for millions of shoppers, most of whom will find themselves browsing for bargains online.

“The rush online raises the spectre of shoppers having to wait in virtual queues, and most consumers would be willing to spend more than an hour in line for a £200 discount.

“Shopping online gives you the chance to plan in advance. Ahead of the event, write a list of the items you want, and note the price so that you can judge any Black Friday discounts.” is offering tips for Black Friday consumers in its useful How to be a savvy sales shopper guide

Chris Price
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