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UK Insights

Will Black Friday UK 2015 be a washout?

Bryan Roberts

Insights Director

Retail 27.11.2015 / 11:30

Umbrella in the rain

Anecdotal evidence suggests Black Friday on the high street has been something of a damp squib

TV crews outnumbered shoppers on London's Oxford Street, while many stores that we visited were virtually deserted. Only electricals retailer Currys and a couple of department stores were showing any signs of incremental business.

If observations on social media are to be believed, it also appears that participating supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury's were not exactly rushed off their feet during early trading. A couple of retailers, including Debenhams, have asserted that they are anticipating a decent uptick in shoppers after people finish work, but it remains to be seen if this more of an optimistic wish rather than a scientific forecast. 

So, why is it that the anticipated instore Black Friday frenzy has seemingly failed to materialise?

Public apathy: A survey of over 3,000 shoppers from Kantar's Lightspeed GMI showed that 57% of British shoppers had no plans to buy an item in the Black Friday sale (up from 55% in 2014).

The weather: It's a typical British day out there - a mix of wind and rain will not have encouraged many shoppers to get out of bed at four O'clock in the morning for the chance of picking up a cheap TV.

Last year: While the likes of Tesco have put in place much improved planning and resources in terms of crowd management, a number of shoppers will have been put off by the footage and reports of overcrowding, stampedes and violence that marred Black Friday in 2014.

Asda: Asda's well-publicised decision to shun Black Friday in 2015, citing their shoppers' disinterest in the event, will have at least subliminally cooled the ardour of other shoppers towards Black Friday this year.

Promotional spread: To avoid the damaging peak in online traffic and ecommerce fulfilment a large number of retailers have elongated their Black Friday endeavours across several days, even an entire week. The overall net impact on spending might be broadly similar, but this spend will obviously be diluted across a broader time frame meaning that the sales on Friday itself will be lower than they could have been.

Online: It seems certain that 'Black Friday' will largely be an online event this year, with shoppers opting for the convenience of home delivery or click & collect rather than braving a trip to the high street, retail park or shopping centre. Dixons Carphone has confirmed that it has been doing very brisk trade indeed so far today and has noted that it is expecting three million online visits today and 10 purchases per second at peak periods.   

Overall, there is little doubt that Black Friday (or the elongated version of it) will be a huge sales event for the UK retail sector, with Experian-IMRG predicting that sales will be up 32% to £1.07 billion. It just seems that stores will not be where most of this occurs.

Source : Kantar Retail

Editor's Notes

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