Today, British consumers are expected to spend in excess of £2 billion on Black Friday deals. Half of those purchases are expected to be made online. According to John Lewis, during the night sales through its website were happening at a rate of five per second, thrashing all expectations by morning.
Black Friday burst onto the British retail scene a couple of years ago. Despite it historically being associated with the US holiday of Thanksgiving, Brits were more than happy to receive it, and have now come to expect it so much that build-up this year has been bigger than ever.
Last year UK consumers spent £3.3 billion during the four-day Black Friday weekend, according to the IMRG and Experian data. They spent £1.1bn on Black Friday alone, up 35.8% from £810 million in the same period a year ago.
But the question is, are the offers genuine? According to the consumer watchdog Which?, in the UK last year, 49% of Black Friday deals on popular electronic gadgets and home appliances could have been beaten in the three months leading up to the event, or the two months after it. It claimed that some retailers were guilty of misrepresenting the size of discounts during the event by briefly raising prices beforehand.
Black Friday could also be losing its appeal with retailers. A recent study by LCP Consulting found that 61% of UK retailers now find Black Friday to be unprofitable and unsustainable. Questioning more than 100 retailers in the UK and US, it also found that a third of UK retailers have seen returns increase over the last 12 months, and particularly following peak trading periods such as Black Friday.
Taking a look at some of the Black Friday deals on offer this year it’s evident that some retailers are boosting their efforts, extending it to a two-week deal in some cases.
Argos, for example, is running a 13-day event during which prices are promised to not go any lower, helping to remove some of the stress of Black Friday. But when stock is gone, it’s gone.
The website advises: “the quietest period online was 3-4am. So set your alarms and get ready for the Black Friday Deals!”
The Body Shop is taking a different approach, hoping to entice the lazy shopper. With just one click, a special Black Friday bundle containing £93.50 worth of products can be added to the shopping basket, for just £35. How’s that for an easy Christmas shop? There’s a lovely selection of goodies included in the deal…so good in fact, that the website went down at the time of writing!
A further 40% discount is also available on many products.
Topshop is in an interesting position this year, with staff at its online distribution depot having announced plans to strike on Cyber Monday, which will include the processing of Black Friday deals. Nevertheless it is ploughing ahead with Black Friday, offering up to 50% off selected items, instore and online.
Currys PC World has gone the whole hog and optimised its title tag to incorporate the ‘Black Friday’ phrase, as have some other retailers. According to reports, more than 500,000 shoppers had visited the Currys website before 6am, with orders up 40% on 2015.
Footwear retailer Clarks is offering 20% off all full price adult shoes and accessories, and interestingly is piggybacking off a competitor’s branding (who is also running a Black Friday deal) as part of its paid search marketing plan (we have no specifics on how long this has been the case for).
There’s little doubt that spending figures are likely to easily surpass last year’s, with several brand websites already struggling to cope with demand. Whoever thought that online shopping was less stressful than on the high street!