Personally, I doubt whether retailers will have either the time or inclination to read the advice about Black Friday that’s being heaped upon them from every quarter. Surely, there’s a more productive way to channel these insights and analytics into positive outcomes rather than simply naysaying as a default mechanism. Black Friday is here today, it’s live, it’s happening. Please just let the retailers, who are experienced (don’t you know) get on with their day job. But for those who want to read around this one day at the end of November and dissect it to death, here’s a flavour of what’s come into the Retail Times’ inbox today:
Andrew Fowkes, head of retail centre of excellence, SAS UK & Ireland, on how retailers could’ve been better prepared.
“As shoppers flocked online to grab a bargain, several retailers buckled under the pressure of increased traffic. This could have been prevented had retailers used data analytics to get a more accurate picture of impending demand. Using insight from the vast amount of data that retailers have at their disposal could have helped them to understand and respond to the disrupted landscape and changing expectations in a far more effective way. For example, adjusting price levels or promotions to keep demand at a more manageable level. Not only that, if retailers have a clearer understanding as to how and when customers interact with their website, they can improve outbound campaigns to target profitable customer segments when there is less online traffic.”
Andrew Bucher, founder and chief veterinary officer at MedicAnimal, the UK’s leading online pet retail and healthcare supplier with more than 4 million customers, said: “So far today we have seen a 300% increase in sales compared to a typical Friday. Consumers still seem to be strongly motivated by Black Friday.
“While Black Friday may be portrayed as a time when consumers spend on items they don’t necessarily need, we’re seeing our customers taking advantage of offers to buy the things they would usually to look after their pets. While our business is normally not very seasonal, due to the fact that we sell all the foods, medicines and accessories that pet owners use regularly, we are always impressed when an event such as Black Friday results in multiples higher revenue.”
Martin Plocica, director of shopping centres, Hammerson, said: “Black Friday last year was a phenomenal success, with over half a million customers visiting our shopping centres nationwide and our retail tenants recording a 12% sales spike. This year, we are seeing similar success, with shoppers taking advantage of discounts, predominantly across electricals, fashion and footwear. At Bullring and Brent Cross, the cold snap has encouraged shoppers to zone in on seasonal items, with winter coats, boots and knitwear proving particularly popular. Jewellery, a stand out category throughout the year, has also recorded impressive sales.
“Retailers are well prepared this year, with many kicking off Black Friday deals early leading to healthy footfall right across the week in our centres. This is anticipated to continue over the weekend and into Cyber Monday.
“With forecasts suggesting a rise in online spending this year, we also expect that customers will make use of our Click & Collect facilities to avoid the queues and work around their busy schedules.”
Shane Happach, chief commercial officer, global e-commerce at Worldpay, said: “With Black Friday now more than half-way gone, it’s safe to assume this year’s online sales in the UK will eclipse those of previous years despite the backlash around the event that has dominated headlines over the past few weeks.
“Our data shows UK online sales this morning were already 52% higher than they were by the same point in the day during Black Friday 2014. On a global scale, we have processed 40% more online transactions than we had over the same period last year.
“Non-retail businesses will be happy to know many of their employees got their Black Friday shopping in before work today, with the biggest jump in sales occurring between 8:15–9:15am. At this morning’s peak we were processing a record 320 transactions per second.
“If there were any doubts Black Friday will remain a staple of the global retail calendar, today’s spending has surely quelled them. We’re on track for yet another record-breaking day of sales, sending a clear message to retailers that shoppers’ appetite for major events like this remains strong.”
Shane Forster, UK country manager from Voucherbox.co.uk, said: “Both shoppers and retailers have been much more prepared for Black Friday this year, and this is evident with the early influx of bargain hunters seen online. Retailers are also focussing more on prolonging offers to avoid any online or high street panic, and this seems to be working well so far with calm scenes on the high street and most websites handling the extra traffic. This also puts the 10% drop in offers this year into context as the big savings will be spread out over the cyber weekend.”
Diane Wehrle, Insights director at Springboard, said: “Despite the uplift that the new “tradition” in our trading calendar brings for retailers, there is limited evidence of the benefit for retailers over the Christmas period as a whole. Indeed, what we have already identified is that a key issue – and one that retailers should not lose sight of – is the likely hit on footfall in retail destinations and therefore on bricks and mortar stores that Black Friday weekend will cause on the following weeks.”
Black Friday is changing the shape of the Christmas trading period. he trend that footfall and sales start to steadily increase during late November with a “super peak” in the last few days before Christmas has now formed into a wave. This starts with uplift in footfall on Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday, then a trough with no major increase from week to week throughout December, rising to a final peak over the last week before Christmas. As part of this change, Boxing Day is becoming a less important trading day in the same way that New Year’s Day did years ago.
In the week after Black Friday weekend last year, Springboard figures show that despite a +10.6% increase in high street footfall from the week before, footfall dropped by -3.3% from the same week in 2013. The aftermath over the following week was almost as great, with an overall drop across all retail destinations from the same week in 2013 of -2.2% and of -3.6% in the high street.
Even possibly of more significance, is the impact felt beyond Black Friday weekend over the weeks up until Christmas itself. Footfall over the weeks following Black Friday weekend up to the Christmas week last year was -1.3% lower than in 2013, with the expected surge in customer activity only commencing the week before Christmas, far later than retailers have come to expect. However, with Christmas Day falling on a Friday this year, the final peak is expected to be more powerful thanks to the four full trading days before. On Boxing Day, a day that has long been regarded by shoppers as a key opportunity to grab bargains, footfall dropped by -8.8% overall in 2014 and by -12.6% on the high street compared with a drop in 2013 of -0.8%overall and -3.8% in the high street.
Wehrle said: “For retailers of course, with their propositions now becoming increasingly seamlessly omni-channel, with little distinction being made between online sales versus sales made in bricks and mortar stores, Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer unique opportunities. However, we have seen unanticipated demand from pure play retailers for a high street presence indicating its ongoing importance, reflecting the fact that 88% of retail spend is still made in retail destinations. So, with this and with onerous occupation costs being a given, turning a blind eye to the impact of Black Friday on traditional shopping destinations could mean that a heavy price is paid.”
Jamie Turner, co-founder of PCA Predict, said: “With a month to go, Black Friday is a date savvy shoppers await with bated breath as discounts descend on shoppers and continue on Cyber Monday. After experiencing the overwhelming appetite from consumers last year, we expect even more retailers to join in this year and could see activity double the levels we saw in 2014. Payday for most lands on the last working day of the month which is in fact Cyber Monday this year, while last year it coincided with Black Friday. This could mean that consumers wait to have their funds infused first to take full advantage of the deals on offer. If this does happen, we predict sales will peak at 11am on Cyber Monday. Over the last 12 months, smartphones have adapted to have better screens which are larger and have higher resolution. Retailers have also recently attributed successful sales figures to the growth of mobile transactions so we could see the proportion of mobile phone activity increase by at least 12%.This would eat into tablet traffic, while the proportion of desktop usage falls by 10%, and mean that almost 1 in 3 shoppers use their mobile phone to make online purchases and enjoy the sales whilst on the go.”
TrafficDefender, a leading traffic management company, is today live monitoring 115 of the top online retailers.
The Black Friday leaderboard table can be found at: http://www.traffic-
Bryan Roberts, senior vice-president & knowledge officer, EMEA, at Kantar Retail, said: “There’s been plenty of anecdotal evidence around this morning to suggest that Black Friday, in terms of store-based retail, has been something of a damp squib in the UK this year. TV crews outnumbered shoppers on London’s retail destination 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 our sister company 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). Of those that were planning to participate, 13% said that they planned to buy something in store and 35% reported that they planned to buy something online.
“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 04.30 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 £1.07bn. It just seems that stores will not be where most of this occurs.”
It’s Black Friday, there’s less than a month to go until Christmas, and CitySprint is trialling an unusual delivery method to ensure its couriers can deliver whatever the weather.
Forecasters may be predicting a snowy festive season, but CitySprint has it covered. The UK’s largest same day distribution service is testing reindeer delivery to help its couriers continue to reach more than 88% of the UK population in 60 minutes.
Patrick Gallagher, CitySprint CEO , said: “This is our busiest time of year and each delivery is as crucial as ever. With winter around the corner, we need to be prepared for every eventuality to ensure that no present goes undelivered. And of course we hope to bring a smile to commuters’ faces with our team of reindeer and their sleigh!”
Julien Hervouët, CEO & founder of customer engagement platform iAdvize, said: “With this week’s Black Friday predicted to break the £1bn sales barrier for the first time, it has become the most important day of the year for retailers. However, at the same time it is one of the most stressful days for businesses and customers alike. Long queues and overcrowded stores are no one’s idea of a great shopping experience.
“Staying at home on Black Friday may be the smartest move given that the best deals can be found online. Not only this, customers see at first glance which items are still available and this saves them a tremendous amount of time.
“Meanwhile businesses – despite being forewarned about a huge influx of consumers on Black Friday – are unprepared to offer effective customer care, which results in the loss of potential sales.
“In order for businesses and e-commerce sites to make use of the immense revenue opportunities that Black Friday offers them, they need to meet the expectations of new and existing customers and sufficient customer care forms an essential part of that.
“There is now a high demand for customer support when online shopping, according to our research. UK consumers want to be able to contact retailers via a variety of channels, ranging from email to live chat and phone. Many do not want to wait for a response of longer than a minute with nearly a third of shoppers abandoning an online purchase due to lack of support.”
Rob Fenton, UK MD of fifty-five, a business data agency, said: “Since its introduction into the UK in 2010, Black Friday has exploded in popularity year after year. This year sales will most certainly surpass last year’s record spend of £810mn and will easily top £1bn. Without doubt today will become the biggest online retail event in UK history, with many retail records being broken including the biggest smartphone shopping day ever.”
“What really sets it apart from Cyber Monday is that it offers consumers both online and in-store bargains meaning retailers can appeal to as many UK shoppers as possible and really drive sales to kick off the Christmas rush.”
“The interesting story is high street retailers, who used their intelligence to make sure that Black Friday, doesn’t turn into Red Friday for their profit margins.”
“The winners of Black Friday will be the multi-channel retailers that invested in data to understand the attribution that online media and online store visits have on high street store sales, as they can make the right level of media, price and stock investments to profitably capitalise on this volume opportunity that kick starts Christmas trading.”
“Some big retailers have shunned the day, such as Primark avoiding discounting, while others, like Asda, have abandoned Black Friday altogether as a pre Christmas sales bonanza. However, its popularity is especially highlighted by the fact that British consumers are just as comfortable shopping from the comfort of their own home, as they are queueing up for long hours and potentially having to wrestle over a flat screen TV just to get their hands on a precious bargain.”
Live tracker by Ampersand reveals retailer websites that have been caught out by Black Friday pressure:
The websites of Boots, Argos and Game experienced service disruption over the last 12-hours, most likely due to the strain of increased traffic during the Black Friday rush, according to a live tracker by commerce agency Ampersand.
These fresh website issues follow the crash of Argos’s website that occurred last Friday on the first day of its Black Fridaysales period.
Darryl Adie, managing director of Ampersand, said: “For retailers that have been adversely affected by increased Black Friday traffic online, now is the perfect the time to act fast and gather all the data they have available to them. Although it’s a long way off, the next few weeks should be used to prepare for Black Friday 2016. Ever-extending sales periods like this are notoriously hard to predict. Retailers should immediately delve deep into hour-by-hour analytics reporting and cross check with how and when systems outages occurred. Starting load and performance testing right away will give retailers the best chance of avoiding outages next year.“
Many websites weathered the storm with Amazon and M&S remaining online this morning. The tracker, which refreshes every minute, monitors the uptime, downtime and response times of websites of the top 50 online retailers as defined by the IMRG.
To see which retailers’ websites are currently live, access live analysis and download daily reports follow this link – http://amp.co/blackfriday.
Peter Veash, CEO at digital agency The BIO Agency, said: “Black Friday is the new Cyber Monday. Major retailers like Jigsaw, Oddbins, Asda and Made.com are point-blank refusing to take part, citing various reasons including trying to prevent a shopping frenzy in their stores after last year’s drama. Clearly it’s not just the retailers focusing on their online offering, customers don’t want to face the stress of shopping on the high street on Black Friday and this will boost online shopping even more. Brands need to recognise that and make sure all their digital assets are ready, and can cope with the increased traffic.”
Mark Denton, head of presales consulting at BT Expedite, said: “At this time of year, online channels are under increased pressure to cope with a surge in consumer demand. Nothing could be a bigger disaster than digital platforms buckling under increased strain.
“A robust and scalable network is needed to meet the unprecedented demand during this period. And a failure to have this in place could have a detrimental impact on customer experience, loyalty and brand reputation.
“Retailers need to rethink their IT infrastructure and make improvements to their network, cloud platforms and data centre infrastructure to ensure that it is robust and scalable enough to meet consumer expectations during such peak seasonal events.”
Ritu Mahandru, VP of application delivery at CA Technologies, said: “Following last year’s Black Friday shopping frenzy, it’s clear many Brits will choose to avoid chaotic in-store experiences and turn online to secure the best deals. But those hoping to avoid frustrations might be disappointed – unresponsive applications and slow check-out due to technical issues can lead to customers missing out on deals or giving up at the last payment hurdle. This happens all too often.
“This is particularly worrying given consumer patience is at all-time low. A recent CA Technologies study conducted by Zogby Analytics showed that 58% of consumers say their tolerance for technical issues impacts their decision to use or purchase a brand’s application and 47% have dumped a brand’s application for another brand due to a better feature or service.
“Developers must think carefully when designing applications so that they are able to withstand an influx of activity on days like Black Friday. Integrating applications with online services to enable secure sharing of customer information already stored on retailer’s websites should be considered, as well as improving application testing so that real-time feedback can be quickly acted upon. These are just two ways businesses can improve application performance which will benefit not just the bargain hunters, but all consumers.”
Raja Ray, director of products and solutions at Verifone, said: “A shopping experience on Black Friday has become synonymous with chaos – excessive queues in-store, clunky or frozen purchasing paths online and overloaded servers are a familiar picture. What is surprising is that through this disorder, shoppers and retailers have somehow accepted this as normal.
“Brands can however do a better job at providing a seamless shopping experience across online and offline worlds. Improving technology that’s better applied to a more connected form of commerce is key – this means integrating with latest payment services, such as Apple Pay, and bringing on board services like tokenisation that allow for 1-click purchases.
“Black Friday is perfect for driving customer loyalty. If retailers don’t act on it, it will forever remain in public consciousness as a day of discounts for those with strong nerves, rather than an opportunity to receive excellent services from brands we love, for a fraction of the price.”
David Chalcraft, Principal Lecturer in Marketing and Business Strategy at Westminster Business School, believes that many of the transactions contributing to the predicted record £1bn Black Friday sales this year will be made online: “Much of the action for this year’s Black Friday will not take place in-store but from the comfort of consumers’ homes, as shoppers opt to snap a bargain online rather than queue for hours in shops. Although less immediately newsworthy than scenes of over-excited shoppers struggling to claim that bargain TV, on average over £1 in four is spent online and this figure is expected to rise this Black Friday’sweekend.
“Whilst some shoppers will still trek out to their favourite retailer and get caught up in the buzz and hype of the day, a high number will choose to skip the queues and do all their shopping online. For retailers, a well-planned and resourced online presence will help them (hopefully) handle the load with little of the off-line, in-store hassle.
“With many large stores continuing to partake in the bargain event, this frenzied weekend will shift the pattern of pre-Christmas buying, pulling it forward and arguably depressing margins ahead of the most important trading period of the year. Whether this will increase the total seasonal spend or offer an advantage in the struggle for the shoppers’ pound is more debatable.
“Although forecasts vary on whether this year’s Black Friday will break the £1billion barrier, it is likely we will see shopping sales surpass this marker. It’s important to consider the whole weekend – not just the Friday. So-called ‘Sofa Sunday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ will be significant too. According to the Centre for Retail Research, the ‘four-day’ sales bonanza may net the retailers around £3.5bn.”
GetPaidTo.com surveyed 2,000 people in the UK to find:
- Although November is the most popular month to start Christmas shopping (32% of us start our Christmas shopping in November), it’s also the most popular month for Brits to start saving for the festivities (13% only start saving in November)
- With a chunk of us only starting to save now, Brits need to be cautious not to get too caught up in the Black Friday sales – worryingly, GetPaidTo’s research found that a shocking 16% of Brits still haven’t even paid off last year’s Christmas debt
Other interesting insights include:
- Over a third (34%) go into debt every Christmas, of which 82% admit to struggling to pay it back
- A quarter of people (24%) borrow money from family, friends and colleagues
- 40% of Brits are borrowing or loaning money this Christmas
Nearly one in five (17%) are spending on gifts they can’t afford by paying via credit card and almost one in 10 (7.5%) are using overdraft facilities
- One in four (26%) Brits started Christmas shopping before the summer was out
- Londoners are the biggest culprits of last minute shopping, with a third leaving their Christmas shopping to December
Intu operations director, Gordon McKinnon, said: “Bargain hunters have been out early at intu shopping centres with customers queuing before the doors were open. With heavily discounted bargains available, there are fantastic savings to be had.”
Intu commercial & digital director, Trevor Pereira, said: “Visitor numbers are encouraging showing that customers are shopping online and in our centres. They are drawn to the discounts available, and the visitor numbers show that BlackFriday is now an omni-channel shopping attraction.”
James Westlake, UK country head for Trustpilot, said: “After a day like Black Friday, shoppers often share their experiences online, both good and bad. Last Black Friday, we saw a 13% increase in reviews left on Trustpilot, and an 11% increase in negative reviews. As a retailer it can be tempting to focus on the quick wins instead of consistently delivering great customer service. However, significant increases in demand over a short period of time can put pressure on various aspects of doing business, from inventory to delivery right to website maintenance and customer support.
“While our data shows that Black Friday places a great strain on businesses, since consumers expect the same high level of customer service no matter what day of the year it is, it also shows that they recover quickly. Over the weekend immediately following Black Friday last year, just 8% of the reviews created were negative compared to an overwhelming 88% positive reviews. It’s clear that the businesses who do best on Black Friday are the ones who prioritise, listen and engage with their customers to build long term, trusting relationships.”
PCA Predict’s Big Data Labs reveal that shoppers across the UK sacrificed a good night’s sleep to make the most of Black Friday sales today with a peak in online transactions between midnight and 1am.
Following last year’s record sales, Brits were geared up for today’s discounts which show a 62% increase in the volume of online activity between midnight at 7am compared to 2014.
This is also the first time smartphones have has outstripped desktop usage with 45% of all shoppers this morning checking out the sales on their mobile. While mobile has seen the most significant growth for deal-hunters so far, PCA Predict expect this could change back to desktop over the day as consumers head into work.
Scots are the savviest shoppers, with the highest number of online transactions before breakfast found in Motherwell. Five Scottish towns are amongst the top 10 this year based on highest levels of online activity between midnight and 7am. (A breakdown of the top regions for online spending can be found below.)
Big Data Labs aggregates data live from PCA Predict’s 10,000+ UK retail customers and PCA Predict can send updates throughout the day.
Jamie Turner, CTO & co-founder of PCA Predict, said: “Black Friday has already surpassed transaction levels from last year. With more awareness and preparation this time around, customers have clearly been waiting for the moment to strike the sales and have stayed up until the early hours as we spotted a spike in activity at midnight.
“This is the first time we’ve seen the use of mobile devices outstrip desktops. Over the last 12 months, the resolution and capabilities of smartphones have improved significantly and retailers have prioritised their mobile compatibility. Consumers have therefore become accustomed to the convenience of shopping on the go and on the most famous discount day of the year, smart shoppers are not prepared to let anything make them miss out.”
The Big Data Labs will be updated live throughout the day http://bigdatalabs.postcodeanywhere.co.uk/. These graphs can be embedded automatically from this site, using the green button directly under the graph.
John Pincott, European MD at order management solutions provider, Shopatron, said: “With Black Friday looming, Shopatron research reveals 1-in-3 UK shoppers will use click-and-collect this year to do their Christmas shopping.
“Consumers, previously constrained by postal deadlines, are increasingly comfortable with the idea of snapping up deals online when they’re at the best whilst being safe in the knowledge orders will be waiting for them to collect shortly afterwards in-store.
“With Christmas Day also falling on a Friday this year, many people will be working right up until the start of the festive period. The convenience of collecting presents in-store could therefore drive further peaks in omni-channel sales all the way through to the final days before the 25th.
“Retailers embracing changing consumer demands and uniting their bricks and mortar with online will make the biggest gains in this year’s busy shopping season. This is an especially important lifeline for mid-size and smaller retailers looking to compete with larger stores and the online giants. In addition to encouraging motivated shoppers visiting local stores to make additional purchases, they can also add products to an online mix that are typically too challenging for delivery.”
Ed Armishaw, head of customer acquisition at Walkbase, said: “The fact that 6p for every £1 spent in the grocery sector is dependent upon the weather highlights why, when retailers get customers through the door, in-store conversion is so important.
“By accurately measuring Wi-Fi on customer smart phones, analytics can anonymously gather accurate data on customer paths, dwell time and conversion to build rich customer profiles. This can then be used to determine the ad hotspots to locate in-store ad displays, set the pricing and rate cards for these displays, base content and the timing of ads based on behaviour, as well as measure how many saw and ad and what the subsequent behaviour was. This will allow brands to make the most of optimum positions in store.”
Jon Copestake, retail analyst at the EIU, said: “It’s unlikely that we will see the same chaotic scenes in the UK on Black Friday as we saw last year. Stores were caught unaware last year and are likely to have made much better preparations this year. Additionally, shoppers may also be wary after last year’s excesses and many are becoming more inured to holiday season sales. There is an awareness now that Black Friday runs through until Cyber Monday and, even after this, there are plenty of shopping dates like Super/Panic Saturday and Manic Monday to choose from. Stores are also spreading sales out too. Amazon began its Black Market sales a week before Black Friday and offers daily flash deals anyway. A number of online channels are advertising themselves as offering BlackFriday deals without the chaos, which may also dampen footfall. Finally, some stores are opting out of Black Friday altogether, as Asda has done, despite its parent, WalMart, leading the charge in the US.
“Over the course of the weekend, it is still likely that we’ll see significant sales, cementing it as a key shopping date. But, rather than operating as a specific sales day, Black Friday will be spread out over a number of days and will signal the start of a longer shopping period that leads right through to the January sales.
“We are now living in a digital era where consumers demand a personalised shopping experience and it’s time for retailers to rethink how they manage their in-store experiences.”
Salmon, the global ecommerce consultancy that predicted this year would see the UK’s first £1bn shopping day, has the latest results from its Black Friday analytics hub, which includes a cross section of Salmon’s retail clients in the home, gaming, and lifestyle sectors. With some clients, Salmon is seeing an increase of up to three times the amount of traffic compared to last year.
In the first of our three round ups today, here are the Black Friday updates in the UK so far between midnight and 8am:
– 106% increase in sales compared to Black Friday 2014
– 100% increase in completed orders from Black Friday 2014
– 59% of traffic is coming via desktop devices
– 41% of traffic is coming via mobile devices
Keith Richardson, managing director of retail at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Black Friday is clearly here to stay as shoppers love seeing how far they can stretch their budget to bag a bargain. For the retailer, however, it’s very much a Marmite event.
“Retailing is generally a discretionary spend but at Christmas you could argue it’s a necessity, so why give away margin? Yes, there will be some great deals on winter clothing and electrical items, but it’s really not clear who is helping who.
“For the consumer, it’s all about the massive headline discounts, but for the retailer it’s all about sales mix, as they try to tempt shoppers to spend more throughout the range.
“Last year, however, Black Friday did not result in any extra spending – customers simply did some of their Christmas shopping a little earlier than planned to take advantage of bargains on the day.
“Retailers will be better prepared this time. British consumers are expected to spend more than £1bn online in 24 hours this year, and businesses that have invested in IT and fulfilment – and that can therefore cope with the surge in demand this year – are likely to win out.
“If it tempts shoppers to spend more, then Black Friday will only get bigger. If it just moves shoppers spending forward, leaving retailers no better off come the end of the year, then maybe more retailers will join major brands such as Asda by not taking part in future.”
Bharat Mistry, cyber security consultant, Trend Micro, said: “Staying safe online can be more challenging these days as cyber criminals are becoming much more sophisticated with their activities. However, there are some simple things consumers can do to stay safe on Black Friday. One of the key tactics cyber criminals use is to send e-mails that are designed to look like they come from genuine businesses – such as retailers. These e-mails will comprise links to very damaging malware that can steal a consumer’s private data. This means it is very important that consumers do not click on links in e-mails from an uncertain origin. Check the retailers own information and confirm the contact e-mail address they will use.
“Another common trick that cyber threat actors use is to create a fake website that is almost identical to that of a legitimate retailer. In order for consumers to check the legitimacy of a retailer’s website, they can check the URL through promotional materials or social media profiles. Ensure that any transactions made are safely encoded with a HTTPS link in the URL and keep your Internet security software up to date – so any viruses or malware can be captured and removed straight away.”
Daniel Todaro, managing director of field marketing specialist, Gekko, said: “While it seems that Black Friday has had a surprisingly calm kick-off compared to last year’s chaos, with big retailers like Argos and Tesco already experiencing website difficulties due to high customer demand, it’s possible that pressure on the high street will climb as the day proceeds.
“The potential risk of sites crashing on the most important shopping day of the year is likely to damage brand equity with shoppers. To avoid wasting time online, it’s likely that bargain hunters will resort to the convenience of heading in-store. It’s therefore crucial that in-store promoters and brand ambassadors are available to confidently assist customers as soon as they step through the shop doors, to minimise customer stress and to drive sales.”
Terry Hunter, VP e-commerce and client strategy at major ecommerce player Astound Commerce, said: “Black Friday has yet again proven to be a poison chalice for some retailers, most notably Argos. The worst thing about it is they clearly didn’t learn the lessons from last year when their site buckled under the high demand, in much the same way as it is doing right now.
“Argos had attempted to follow Amazon’s lead by offering deals over longer than just a 24-hour window. Perhaps this was done in the hope it would alleviate pressure on their back-end systems on what is now the single biggest day in the UK retail calendar.”
“But spread the load over a longer time frame and all the incentives in the world don’t count for much if systems aren’t optimised to deal with still elevated traffic volumes. No-where is this more important than at check-out. You can manage resources by pushing consumers to specific deals at specific times, but ultimately, they all end up at the same check-out. Integration of this with back-end systems can make or break the success of key shopping periods for any retailer and at the minute, Argos’s set up clearly isn’t up to scratch.”
Nick Fletcher, director of multi-channel sServices at digital marketing company, Rakuten Marketing, said: “The high street has got off to a slow start this Black Friday, and although we’re still likely to see record sales made online, it may actually be Cyber Monday that steals the show over the discount weekend. Our network data shows that Cyber Monday will see the biggest year on year growth out of the 2 days, and could even surpass Black Friday in terms of overall sales made.
“The biggest spenders are clearly online this year so with shoppers able to flit between brands to find the best deal, a fantastic customer experience will be crucial to ensure conversions. Retailers must connect the experience they offer on mobile, tablet and laptop so that their dialogue with the customer is seamless and above all, not lost to the competition. Overall, those retailers that engage customers throughout the whole weekend will remain front of mind. Brands will need to work especially hard to remind shoppers of items they have expressed interest in to secure sales.”
A new study, published in the Journal of Global Fashion Marketing, examines a broad range of BlackFriday (BF) shopping behaviors and experiences, as well as the relationships between shoppers’ motivations and characteristics.
Authors Hyun Ju Kwon and Thomas M. Brinthaupt asked 142 students from a US public university to participate in a survey of multiple scales. This selection of participants included those that did (63%) and did not (37%) shop during the most recent BF holiday. Participants were asked to rate their experiences on the ‘hedonic shopping motivations scale’, with subscales containing examples such as ‘To me, shopping is an adventure’ and ‘I enjoy hunting for bargains when I shop’.
The study reveals that more positive BF experiences were related to spending more money, spending more time shopping, beginning to shop earlier in the day and visiting more shops and stores. Those who specifically shopped for electronics reported lower levels of satisfaction with their shopping experience, with those who shopped for clothing reported significantly higher scores on the adventure and gratification subscales.
The behavioral results of the study also indicated that BF shoppers reported significantly higher levels of ‘hedonic shopping motives’ and much higher levels on the adventure, gratification and idea subscale compared to non-shoppers. Conversely, the authors deduce that non-shoppers “may avoid BF shopping because of the added burden and stress associated with the holiday”.
Descriptive statistics from the participants showed that they were most likely to rely on word-of-mouth, visited an average of five stores and reported shopping most often for apparel, electronics and other (non-grocery) products. There appeared to be no gender correlation behind the results.
The authors conclude that “those with more positive BF experience reported a greater intention to shop BF again”. This indicates that there may be longevity to the concept of ‘Black Friday’, already indicated by the migration of BF across the Atlantic to the UK in the last few years.
Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of the New West End Company, said: “We’ve seen a tremendous start to the day in London’s West End this Black Friday – in the first four hours of trading we have seen a 10% uplift in footfall compared to Black Friday last year. There is a terrific atmosphere on the streets, with shoppers enjoying the first discounts of the season in an unashamedly festive setting.
I have seen people bringing suitcases with them in order to carry their purchases home– and with retailers offering discounts of up to 50% off, it is no surprise that a predicted £100m will be taken in West End tills today and a total of £200m from Friday– Sunday.
In light of the footfall figures we have seen so far, we look set to be on course for the busiest trading day in London’s West End so far this year.”