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Black Friday fever leads to 37% growth in November online sales: IMRG

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Black Friday fever lifted online sales by more than a third in November, the biggest growth ever seen at that time of year, according to etail trade association the IMRG.

An estimated £12.1bn was spent over the internet in the last month, lifting ecommerce by 37% compared to the previous month, and by 20% compared to the same month last year, the IMRG-Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index found.

Sales in Black Friday week – starting November 23 – rose by 44%, with 82% growth in the number of people buying over smartphones and tablet computers. Overall, mobile commerce grew by 48% in November, compared to the previous month, and 80% year-on-year.

It was, says the IMRG, the biggest October to November increase in the 14-year history of its index. When the travel category was excluded, growth was even bigger, at 22% year-on-year and 45% month-on-month.

“Sales on Black Friday alone surged 135% year-on-year as consumers flocked to retail websites on what turned out to be the busiest shopping day fo the year to date,” said Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG .

“Many retailers reported that Black Friday was their biggest day ever for online sales, however some reported a slowdown in sales in the days leading up to Black Friday as consumers waited for discounts and promotions before starting their Christmas shopping. Consequently, last month we saw the steepest ever October to November growth in the 14-year history of the index, with sales up 37% month-on-month.”

November’s growth takes online retail sales growth for the year-to-date to 15%, and, says IMRG, it expects the figure to meet its forecasts by reaching 16% by the end of the year.

Conversion rates hit an average 5.3% in the month, with the gifts (+154%, month-on-month), health (+99% month-on-month) and electricals (+71% month-on-month and 22% year-on-year). But, said Spooner, average spend per shopper fell by about 9% from the previous month.

“It looks as if we are on target for another record-breaking Christmas,” said Spooner, “with estimated spend set to break the £100bn barrier by the end of this year.”

Adgild Hop, principal, head of retail consulting at Capgemini , said: “The mania around Black Friday has clearly driven profound sales results in November, in particular in typical ‘Christmas gift’ categories such as gifts, beauty and electronics. We will need to await the December and January results to determine whether this has been truly incremental or merely earlier – and potentially lower margin – sales.

“In light of the fulfillment challenges that the industry has suffered post-Black Friday, we will also be eagerly holding our breath as to whether retailers can indeed fulfil the increased home delivery and click and collect volumes for Christmas. Few things would be more damaging to loyalty than broken promises at this time of year.”

Neil Sansom, ecommerce Director at Moss Bros , said: “Black Friday was our biggest ever day for online sales at Moss Bros and it surpassed Cyber Monday, which we were expecting to be bigger, and even last years’ Boxing Day sales. Black Friday demand at Moss Bros was over 200% up on the year and we can only see this getting larger in future years, as the UK consumer has now embraced the American Black Friday tradition.”

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