PwC: retailer promotions reined in after Black Friday, but discounts already starting to build in run up to Christmas

According to new research by PwC, 74% of high street stores and 79% of online retailers offered some kind of sale or promotion over the Black Friday weekend, figures broadly similar to last year, compared with 36% and 72% respectively in the first week of December.

Promotions starting to climb after dip following Black Friday

However, with Christmas fast approaching, retailers already are starting to increase promotional activity again and PwC expects that, like previous years, promotional levels in the final week before Christmas will match those of the Black Friday weekend – last year, 70% of store and online retailers were on sale that final week.

This year PwC’s research shows that, more so than in previous years, half of store retailers with Black Friday promotions returned to full price the following week in order to preserve profit margins in the key Christmas present shopping period. By contrast, a larger proportion of online retailers remained on promotion, particularly when including sign up and free delivery offers.

For the past eight years, PwC has collected data in November and December on promotions advertised in the high street shop windows and homepages of leading department and chain stores across the UK.

Commenting on the data, Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: “Our analysis shows that the majority of UK retailers, keen to lure in bargain hunters, brought forward promotions to coincide with the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, which has become a firm tradition for British consumers. One in five consumers told us that they intended to do the majority of their Christmas shopping over Black Friday this year.

“Retailers are increasingly returning to full price after Black Friday suggesting they are getting a better handle of managing the promotion cycle in late November in order to preserve profit margins in the critical run up to Christmas. We’ve also seen many multi-channel retailers reserve discounts for online shoppers so as to keep their physical stores at full price.

“As we enter the second half of December, discounting is already starting to pick up, with many retailers keen to clear seasonal stock before the end of the year. With Christmas Day falling on a Tuesday this year, that leaves consumers with a full weekend to do their last minute shopping, so there may well be festive bargains for anyone holding off their shopping until then. Meanwhile, high street retailers will be hoping for sunny weather and a welcome footfall boost after the lacklustre autumn.”