Black Friday 2015: The Difficult Second Album?

On Black Friday last year, British consumers spent £810m on online purchases alone, so after last year’s success many were expecting Black Friday to attract more British bargain hunters than ever. Sales were expected to surpass £1bn.

On the same day this year there was a global protest against consumerism. The global ‘Buy Nothing Day’ urged people to spend no money at all for 24 hours, as well as other actions like visiting shops dressed as zombies, or pushing empty shopping trolleys around supermarkets in a conga line of protest. So what happened?!

In the end fewer customers ventured out for the traditional busiest shopping day of the year, but it looks like they were still shopping, as online retailers saw sales jump.

Springboard, a company which tracks shopper numbers, said online shopping had “stolen the show” over the Black Friday weekend. Footfall across the UK for the weekend was down 9.6% on the year, said Springboard, noting that retailers had spread offers out over several days this year rather than limiting them to Friday.

While UK high streets and shopping centres suffered, the only retail destinations to buck the downward trend sparked by the online boost were retail parks, which recorded a +4.9% YOY increase for the weekend as a whole. While footfall in retail parks on Black Friday itself was down -1.8% YOY, Saturday and Sunday saw increases of +4.8% YOY per day. Springboard believes this is likely to be the result of shoppers using ‘Click and Collect’ on Friday and coming out to pick up their purchases over the weekend.

Imported from the US like its Black Friday cousin, Cyber Monday  is forecast to bring in more than £900m for online retailers – up nearly a third on last year. By the end of Cyber Monday, total sales over the four-day shopping event will have surpassed £3bn in the UK, some analysts have predicted.

It will be interesting to see if the increase in online shopping during the past weekend might actually have an impact on the Cyber Monday sales. Surely I am not the only one experiencing retail fatigue at this time of the year?

Should retailers just focus on having a ‘Black Weekend’ instead of having two separated events? Communications certainly ran for a couple of weeks and continued on Monday.

We will know more about all this in January when the winners and losers of Black Friday truly emerge, when retailers publish their trading updates for the Christmas period.


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