Santa Claus is coming and maybe just as importantly for retailers, Black Friday is even closer. Black Friday is now often seen as the day that kicks off the festive season spending sprees, but what can we expect to see from this year’s extravaganza.
Well, before looking at 2018, it’s worth considering how this phenomenon has evolved over the last few years and the lessons learnt which will influence what we’ll see this time around.
Black Friday 2018: what have retailers learnt?
2014 was the first time we really saw an impact in the UK, and many people still equate Black Friday with the images all over the news that year of adults literally fighting each other in supermarkets to get their hands on cheap televisions. Websites crashed and retailers who weren’t prepared suffered as customers headed for bargains elsewhere.
In 2015, everyone was better organised. Consumers quickly worked out that they didn’t need to risk their lives in a supermarket aisle, when they could get the same bargain from the comfort of their armchair and much of the action moved online. Retailers knew what to expect and their servers and websites were better prepared.
2016 and 2017 saw online rule again and the High Street stay relatively quiet. It also saw discounts extend from the traditional Black Friday products like games consoles, electronics and gadgets to flights, fashion and household goods. Retailers also tried to spread the discount period over several days to try and nab eager consumers early and take the pressure off their systems on Black Friday itself.
Consumers also knew to wait. Retail sales in October and early November were poor in places as people waited for the discounts which they knew would arrive.
So, what can we expect from 2018?
Well, it has been a really difficult year for retail especially on the High Street and tough trading conditions coupled with fragile consumer confidence ahead of an uncertain Brexit mean the excitement for Black Friday seems to be lower than previous years.
Whilst Amazon have announced they will be extending Black Friday deals over a 10 day period and other retailers are promoting a Black November, many retailers are turning their back on the phenomenon.
Pressure on margins mean many are unable to offer the price cuts that they did a couple of years ago, and consumers have gotten wise to the fact that many Black Friday deals were no lower than discounts at other times of the year.
Marketing is likely to be smarter and more targeted, as retailers seek to engage with their customers and attract them by more than simply price.
It will still be a really significant shopping day and bargains will be available if you look hard enough, but it’s unlikely we will see a huge increase in sales numbers from 2017, especially in physical stores as consumers look to tighten their purse strings.