Online Black Friday sales struggle to match last year’s lockdown high, IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index reveals

With no lockdown yet enacted this autumn, online retail sales for Black Friday were down -14.3% Year-on-Year (YoY). That is according to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.

While this was slightly lower than the anticipated -10% drop, last year’s YoY results (+30%) made for a tough comparison, as the nation was once against told to stay at home and consumers had no choice but to shop online. Perhaps in anticipation of this, many retailers began their discounts far earlier this November – from a sample of 317, there were 25 live on Wednesday 3 November, up from 9 on the same day in 2020 – however a deeper dive showed that the number of retailers with live Black Friday campaigns fell to 196 on Wednesday 24 November this year, while the same day in 2020 had 220 live. On Black Friday the number rose and was in line with last year again.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG: “In 2020, the lockdown in November accelerated the trend for retailers launching their campaigns earlier in the month. In 2021 it went earlier again though participation did seem to run out of steam a bit toward the actual big day. It’s early days in analysing what just happened, but it does seem logical that earlier discounting will pull share away from the peak week, meaning the stretching out of Black Friday into a month-long event looks like it is being achieved.”

Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant – Retail Insight, Capgemini: “Online sales were expectedly lower than last year’s lockdown boosted figures as consumers returned to the high street. However, search trends have also been lower this year for terms related to Black Friday and conversion rates did not pick up as strongly. As we dive deeper into the performance this month we should be able to understand if this was predominantly due to a return to the in-person experience, or whether other factors such as longer lower discounts and continued supply chain disruptions have played a part.”