Does “Black Friday” Have Competition in the UK?

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Does “Black Friday” Have Competition in the UK?

I am not sure if you agree, but the buzz terms and jargon now floating around the media in relation to peak Christmas sales periods is becoming ever so slightly tedious.  Having read the headlines this morning regarding Christmas Day online sales forecasts to go through the roof, I thought I’d just shed a little light on the matter for those who don’t know their Manic from Panic days…

Firstly, Black Friday marks the official start of the sales period taking place on last Friday in November and the day after Thanksgiving in the USA.  This has been creeping back in the calendar and industry experts believe that by 2020 Black Friday will be in October!

Cyber Monday is the first Monday after Black Friday in the USA, it was created as a marketing tool to push online purchasing in the run up to the Festive period.

Manic Monday is the second Monday in December in the build up to Christmas Day.

Panic Saturday is the last Saturday before Christmas Day.

Christmas Day & Boxing Day are self-explanatory in their definition. However, now more than ever, these two days play a key role in online sales throughout the Festive period making up almost 30% of all Christmas sales from online purchasing.

Less than five years ago, online shopping at the Christmas lunch table would not have been considered and, if it was, it would have most certainly been seen as taboo behaviour.  But thanks to the adoption of tablets and smartphones, it seems like nearly half of the family members around at the dinner table (from toddler to silver surfer), will be jumping online this Christmas Day.

Reports from Amazon and the IMRG (the online retail association) both agree that this Christmas will see the record-breaking levels of shopping with sales to peak at 12.26pm, just when the sprouts are brought to the boil.

chart blog innesco

Growth in M-commerce

In 2013, IMRG stated that M-commerce (mobile commerce) was largely responsible for driving sales growth, “Sales via smartphones and tablets grew by 138% in 2013, compared to the previous year.  Some 27% of all online sales, worth £3bn, were placed on a mobile device. Of those mobile sales, 82% were from tablet computers. The figure was up by 131% on the same time last year. Meanwhile, sales from a smartphone rose by 186%”.

According to Amazon, Christmas Day sales have increased fivefold over the last five years and IMRG forecasts online sales on the 25th December will increase 36 per cent on 2013 figures.  The reason for the surge in Christmas Day shopping online starts with the wider adoption of mobile devices coupled with giving the gift of a tablet or smartphone.

With Society’s desire for instant gratification now rife throughout almost all generations, this Christmas, new recipients of online device gifts and seasoned users alike will be using their devices to immediately surf/shop online for steadily released bargains.

It’s unclear what products will be the biggest sellers, but here at Innesco, we predict the downloading of games, ebooks and films for an immediate online fix, in addition to the trawling for big ticket items with the best offers as online retailers launch the biggest discounts yet in winter sales campaigns.  It will be interesting to see if there is a national dropout of connectivity!

Logistical Nightmare

Sales estimates and figures can be confusing and the actual net sales need to be cross-referenced with returns to get the most transparent picture.  It should be noted that logistically, online shopping is causing some issues as shoppers buy online and return items to stores.

According to a One Poll survey, 42 per cent of UK consumers are shopping online this year, which equates to 21.2million people with 17 per cent (3.6million) returning gifts before Christmas – a returns value estimated value of goods of £813.4million.

This poses the greatest challenge to retailers who don’t take the till sale in the physical store yet have to provide resource for a busy returns department assisting customers who bought online but return to store.

 Omni-channel Marketing

All this digital and mobile device activity puts even more pressure on retailers to get their omni-channel marketing campaigns in order.  There is also the requirement for shopping centres to ensure they are integral in the “shoppers’ journey” whether it be online or in the physical centre.  For many consumers, they expect free wifi, seamless click-n-collect operations with leading retailers, and shopping centres have a part to play in this.

The shoppers’ journey of browsing the product starts at home but carries on through smartphones in the shoppers’ pockets and mobile devices on the bus or train before arriving at a store to experience the touchy-feely nature of the item and check the product out.

The average shopper doesn’t realise it, but the pace at which retail marketing techniques and tactics are evolving is frightening, as new technology continues to outpace most industries.  The retail sector must strive to keep up with the tech evolution curve to ensure we don’t see future tech challenges that compound existing issues of business rates and vacancies.

With Black Friday resulting in £810 million in sales, it’s hard to imagine that there are any products left to sell, but the various and, frankly alarmingly named, sales that followed have proved we like a good sale and we like them often.

Panic Saturday, the Saturday before Christmas resulted in higher sales, £1.2billion, than Black Friday’s staggering figures. However, it is easy to see why so much purchasing occurs – shopping is easier than ever thanks to online.  Black Friday was originally about getting up before the sun to arrive at the bricks-and-mortar retailer, cup of coffee in hand, to scout out the best deals. However, while news footage assured us that countless customers’ flocked to physical stores, more of us are utilising online and mobile shopping sites from our computers, smartphones and tablets. Before you know it, that Christmas bonus has gone to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Manic Monday, Panic Saturday, Christmas and Boxing Day.

As the whirlwind of adjective-laden sales leaves our wallets feeling a little (or a lot) lighter, it seems obvious that Black Friday has some serious contenders.


Euan Blake, Account Director



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