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Black Friday shopping already underway – with predictions that high street shopping could fall on last year

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Black Friday shopping is already underway well ahead of time at the growing number of retailers that are this year offering extended shopping events. While many are set to spend online over the course of the discounting that’s fast becoming a staple of the season, there are also predictions that visits to the high street will be lower on the day itself than they were last year.

The Charities Aid Foundation predicts that in the UK one in four shoppers, or 13.2m people, are planning to shop on Black Friday, with 24% of shoppers buying on Cyber Monday. It hopes to encourage others to join in with giving, whether that’s time or money, on #givingtuesday, November 29. Salmon, meanwhile, has already predicted that £5bn will change hands over the course of a Black-Five-Day weekend, while IMRG and SimilarWeb say £6.77bn could change hands over seven days from November 21 to 28, with 51% of spending over mobile devices.

For some, the discounting has already started. Currys (pictured) and PC World have now launched a 10-day Black Tag event, joining retailers from Amazon to Tesco and eBay in offering deals over an extended period. It expects to see 141 orders per minutes across the period, and predicts that mobile traffic will for overtake desktop for the first time.

Stuart Ramage, ecommerce director at Dixons Carphone , said: “We’re predicting that this Black Friday will be the biggest we’ve ever seen at Currys PC World and as the largest electrical retailer in the UK, we’ve been working hard to negotiate great deals and prices, so our customers can pick up a great deal across a range of big-name brands that we know they love.”

The retailer is promising to match the deals offered by its competitors even on Black Friday.

Research from Rakuten Marketing suggests that such extended approaches may be particularly successful since they seem to mirror consumer behaviour. The digital marketing company has found that it takes UK consumers six days, from initial research to purchase, to decide to buy on Black Friday.

Megan Dado, regional senior director of Rakuten Affiliate Europe at Rakuten Marketing, said: “Although there’s certainly a shorter journey to purchase, shoppers are less impulsive on Black Friday than brands might think. Like every other day of the year, they are still researching products and where they’re going to find the best deals in advance.”

But ShopperTrak, previously FootFall, predicts that the number of people visiting the high street this Black Friday could fall by 2.8%, year-on-year, as retailers extend the discount period.

Steve Richardson, UK and EMEA director at the organisation, said: “By spreading demand over a long period, these extension strategies remove the immediacy on customers to make a purchase on Black Friday itself, meaning the urgency to go into a physical store to secure a discounted item is lessened. This means we can expect to see a decline in shopper traffic on the day itself, down 2.8% on last year.”

Black Friday, as has been shown in years gone by, simply wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for delivery partners that help them to meet their promises. They are proclaiming themselves ready for the event.

UPS expects that it will deliver more than 700m pacakages around the world over the course of Black Friday and peak Christmas shopping. That’s 14% up on the same time last year. It has taken on 1,300 seasonal employees to help deal witht the volumes.

Stephanie Dexter, director of operations at UPS, UK, said Black Friday would continue to grow in importance. “We have seen these holidays grow exponentially as a consumer market, and they are only going to get bigger,” she said. “Peak impacts began as early as 2009, and ever since then we’ve had large growth in volumes. Retailers are going to seize the opportunity of Black Friday and other campaign periods to move inventory and make more revenue. And now with more retail holidays increasing in popularity in the UK – such as Singles Day, retailers will look to take advantage of the potential boost.”

Other retailers, meanwhile, are deciding not to do Black Friday. Shoppers searching for Black Friday and Jigsaw find that the fashion brand sees the event as a “dark day” that “warps our perception of what’s valuable and important”. It adds: “We find ourselves buying things because they’re reduced. Not because we love them. Or buying people Christmas presents because they’re discounted. Not because it’s what they want.”

Outdoor clothing brand Patagonia has taken a different tack with its promise to give 100% of Black Friday sales to groups that benefit the environment.

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