Black Friday 2021: Free 5G phones and other incentives will boost holiday shopping for US retailers, says GlobalData

During the Black Friday holiday shopping period, GlobalData predicts US retailers, manufacturers and carriers will heavily promote tablets and hot spots in offers designed to increase line count. The leading data and analytics company notes that giftable incentives will be bundled with phone purchases, while Apple AirPods, Google Pixel Buds, Samsung Galaxy Buds+ and smart home devices will be deeply discounted. Free smartwatches, televisions, streaming devices, and more will all be up for grabs.

Nicole Teasley, Technology Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Black Friday 2021 will look a bit different than in previous years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wireless service providers and retailers bear a new level of responsibility for crowd control and shoppers have embraced online shopping like never before. Instead of touting separate sales, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will likely run into a full weekend of short-lived deals that are online before they are available in stores.”

Major carriers – including AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon – will run promotions for every customer type this year. Customers upgrading to new devices have been ignored in years past, but that will be different this year. Carriers have turned their focus to customer retention and now often reward loyal customers just as handsomely as those poached from competitor networks.

Teasley continues: “Carriers will offer multiple promotions on each phone, giving customers options. Add-a-line customers will be offered buy-one-get-one (BOGO) deals, while single-line customers will be required to trade in a newer model phone or move to high-cost unlimited plans to get the best deal. BOGO and add-a-line promotional values will exceed $1,000 this year, and free 5G phone options will be available.”

Widespread availability of 5G-compatible phones will help drive up 5G adoption. Though 5G will only account for 9.4% of total US mobile subscriptions in 2021, GlobalData forecasts that 5G subscriptions will have a share of *54.2% by year-end 2026.

Teasley adds: “Samsung will likely offer credits that allow customers to order giftable freebies ahead of Christmas. Retailers, as well as prepaid and postpaid carriers, are expected to advertise these stackable deals during the holidays. Apple will run some short-lived discount and gift card offers, but it may opt out of instore-only offers in favor of online deals to manage store crowds.”

*Data taken from GlobalData’s report: United States Telecom Operators Country Intelligence Report, September 2021

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