Retailers have been told to brace themselves for a rise of almost a third in spending on ‘Black Friday’ this year.
The now-annual discount day, which has caught on from the US, takes place on November 27 and analysts are predicting that UK consumers will spend £1.07 billon this year.
If the forecasts prove accurate, it will be the first time ever that UK online retail sales will have exceeded £1 billion in a single day.
“With consumers now expecting great bargains and trouble free service, retailers must ensure that they have planned their marketing strategies and logistics around these key dates, with carefully prepared cross-channel campaigns, engaging the right customers, via the right media,” said James Miller, senior retail consultant at analyst firm Experian Marketing Services.
Justin Opie, managing director at e-retail body IMRG, said retailers need to learn lessons from last year, when the size and scale of Black Friday took everyone by surprise. It overwhelmed some carrier and retailer operations, as order volumes came in at a full 30% higher than expectation.
“All the indicators point to a much larger Black Friday this year – both in terms of greater numbers of retailers taking part and growing shopper interest – so the opportunity is vast, but there are many things to consider if it is to be managed efficiently and effectively.
“The first is that we expect Black Friday to become the ‘Black Friday period’ for some retailers, who will run campaigns over several days or even weeks. Also last year anticipation of Black Friday led to a slow start to the Christmas shopping season and panic-discounting by some, which impacted on profit margins. So the availability and rate of discounts will need to be rationalised this year for it to be sustainable.
“Finally it’s important to ensure that customers get the delivery experience they have been promised. Retailers should remember that many shoppers will be happy to wait longer than normal to have their orders delivered if it’s still several weeks until Christmas Day. This will help to ease the strain on fulfilment operations, should bottlenecks occur, but the most important thing is that customers know when to expect their delivery to arrive.”
Black Friday is seen as the start of several key shopping dates in the retail calendar. It is followed by Cyber Monday (Nov 30) and Manic Monday (Dec 7) before the Christmas and New Year sales kick in.