Vend: Black Friday spending dips by 7% as independents miss out

Data from leading retail management platform Vend shows that in-store retail spending over the Black Friday shopping period this year dropped by 7% compared to 2017, while spending over the entire week was down 10% on last year.

This is despite discounting levels being 33% higher this year than in 2017, and the average discount amount increasing by 4 percentage points.

However, Vend, which powers thousands of the UK’s small-to-medium and independent retail stores, found that Black Friday still provides a significant spike in the retail calendar. When looking at the Black Friday period (24-27 November), spending increased by 28% compared to the previous weeks. 

This year many independent retail stores have taken a stand against Black Friday, opting out of the retail event and the pressures it places on margins. 

London-based artisan manufacturer and retailer Kate Sheridan was one such retailer, posting to their customers: “We will not be part of Black Friday this year. As a small company, our focus has always been on creating something of high quality that we believe in. Our products are all made in small batches by real people and often in-house by ourselves. Our prices are honest, money is not our driving force – design and functionality is. We hope you will support ours and other small companies’ decision, by shopping mindfully. Buy less, buy quality.”

While some retailers shunned the retail event, many others still looked to compete, with major spikes in discounting levels across some verticals over the Black Friday period. Health and beauty retailers increased their total discounts by 566%, while fashion and apparel stores grew their discounting by 480%. 

“Heavy discounting can be really tough for independent retailers with smaller margins, especially as we head into the most important trading period of the year. And these retailers have so much more to offer with their unique, cherishable products, compared to some of the bigger stores that can push prices low. But we’ve also seen a 62% increase in discounting overall compared to the rest of October and November. So many smaller retailers are still dropping prices to try and capture footfall over the Black Friday weekend,” says Higor Torchia, UK Country Manager for Vend. 

“Though something our data shows very clearly is that big discounts don’t necessarily equal big sales. Which means that other than a marketing exercise, it really might not be that beneficial for smaller stores to be trying to compete on price.”

Discounting and sales by vertical over Black Friday period, compared to an average week:

Fashion and apparel

55% sales increase

480% discounting increase

Health and beauty

50% sales increase

566% discounting increase

Home, lifestyle and gifts

34% sales increase

64% discounting increase

Sports, hobbies, and toys

11% sales increase

102% discounting increase

Speciality food and drink

No change

66% discounting increase

By city, Bristol and London appeared to see the biggest increases in sales over the Black Friday sales period, with sales increasing by 14% and 13% respectively, compared to previous weeks. Sales in Brighton also increased by 8% and Edinburgh by 4%, while in Manchester there was no change.

Vend’s data also found a slight increase in shoppers paying by credit card this year compared to last. This Black Friday, 48% of sales were taken in cash, with 27% were on credit card. Whereas in 2017 this figure was 54% in cash and 24% on credit.