UK retailers have embraced the US imported Black Friday concept but shaped it to suit the way Britain shops in the lead up to Christmas.
Analysis by GfK a week after this year’s Black Friday says that retailers and manufacturers have learnt from previous years, and used this knowledge to implement what has been a much more orderly event this year. There were very few examples of websites crashing, and stores saw a controlled shopping day.
Retailers were horrified by news stories two years ago of shoppers fighting over discounted TVs, and have aimed to avoid similar scenes by extending the duration of sales and steering people towards shopping online.
Many retailers started Black Friday sales early, with fewer stores dropping prices only on the Friday.
“From our Online Pricing Intelligence, we counted 71,000 price changes on Black Friday 2015 when compared to the day before. This year, we only saw 16,000 when looking at Black Friday versus the Thursday, showing how retailers were already geared up and using sales promotions before the big day itself. The other point to note within online pricing is a sharp fall against same day price changes; down 48% this year,” GfK describes.
Starting sales early may have reduced the likelihood of a crush in stores, but it does not appear to have translated into better sales, according to GfK, which found that store takings fell by 7% in the week leading up to Black Friday. “It appears many consumers still wait until nearer Black Friday to get what they assume will be the best deals,” the retail analyst says.
But Black Friday and the following weekend got sales back on track, with the total market up 6% overall in value, fueled by online sales growing 21% in value.
Almost half of all purchases (48%) were made online, the highest in history.