Our friends across the Atlantic enjoyed their annual Thanksgiving holiday last Thursday. Traditionally the day after Thanksgiving started the end of year shopping season, for whichever of the festivals you personally choose to celebrate at this time of year.
Americans eventually started referring to the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday – a day for retailers to offer deep discounts to start the holiday season – and about five years ago this tradition started taking off in the UK. Now it is well established and very few retailers in the UK ignored Black Friday last week. Black Friday is now extended throughout the entire weekend by most retailers, with today being known as Cyber Monday – when there is more of a focus on online sales.
Amazon started their Black Friday promotions over a week ago. They used the run up to last Friday to offer different daily discounts in different departments with additional discounts promised for Friday itself. Many other retailers also started early, such as Morrisons, eBay, Argos, Boots, Tesco, and Carphone Warehouse. Many others promised to keep their deals for Black Friday itself, but it’s clear that the single day event is being stretched throughout November.
It’s clear to see why retailers enjoy this start to the festive season. Last year UK retail sales on Black Friday exceeded £1bn for the first time, with £3bn spent over the Black Friday weekend – these figures were a 35% increase on 2014. Full results are not yet in for 2016 as today is usually included in the results, but Barclaycard said that Black Friday credit card transactions were up by 6% this year and Nationwide said that their customers had spent 13% more than last year.
The research company Verdict Retail has predicted that Black Friday 2016 will be the biggest ever in the UK, however they strike a note of caution for retailers who think that this bonanza can increase forever. Industry analyst Zoe Mills said:
“This year, we expect to see the greatest participation in Black Friday yet, kick-starting the Christmas-buying season. However, the event’s future success is unknown, as consumers become more price sensitive and retailers struggle to drive incremental spend.”
Verdict research shows that around two-thirds of Black Friday purchases are by customers who have delayed making a purchase or brought-forward a planned purchase, so these are sales that would have taken place anyway. Only a third of Black Friday business is really related to impulse purchases because of great prices and customers are getting more price sensitive so it might be that the event runs out of steam within another couple of years.
For now though, it looks like this past weekend will be another bumper one for retailers in the UK. No British retailer will be able to match the $17.8 billion of sales in a single day achieved by the Alibaba Group in China recently on Singles Day, but it looks like we’ll be seeing another British record.
Did you find any Black Friday bargains? Please leave a comment here or tweet me on @matt_sims1.