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Customers out in force for the Cyber Weekend, early figures suggest

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Early findings suggest that customers turned out in force over the Cyber Weekend.

John Lewis said Friday November 25 was its biggest-ever day. It said it traded well across shops and online over the course of its Black Friday event which ran from Thursday to Monday, with its shops becoming progressively busier over the course of the weekend.

In the week to November 26, the retailers saw its sales reach £199.8m, 6.5% up on the same time last year. “Marked by Black Friday and price matching through our Never Knowingly Undersold policy, it was the biggest ever week in John Lewis’ trading and also included our biggest-ever day on Friday November 25,” said Dino Rocos, lead director and operations director at John Lewis.

Its Magna Park distribution centre saw a record day on Saturday when it processed 33% more items than the equivalent day in 2015. “Across the weekend, we picked on average 12,000 units per hour across our network. On Black Friday itself, customers shopped on mobile phones between midnight and 9am, but desktop quickly took the largest share of traffic from 9am onwards as customers arrived at work. At our busiest time on Friday morning, we took five orders every second on,” said Rocos.

Electrical sales rose by 11%, year-on-year, while fashion sales were up by 4.6%, with beauty up 13.4% and womenswear 15.1%.

Meanwhile, The Hut Group said sales on its sites, which include Myprotein, Lookfantastic, Skinstore and IdealShape grew by 95% on Black Friday, compared to the same time last year.

The group saw more than 3m unique visitors to its websites in 24 hours, and sold more than 3,000 items per minute in peak hours. Brand ambassadors including Louise Thompson from Made in Chelsea and model Chloe Lloyd, plus fitness athletes The West Twins, Kirk Miller and Abby Pell helped to pack goods in the group’s Warrington warehouse.

Chief executive and founder Matthew Moulding said: “I’m pleased to report a successful Black Friday, delivering 95% growth in sales compared to Black Friday last year. This performance was underpinned by both the operational execution of our people and the quality of our operating platform in delivering a first class customer experience across the globe.

“We’ve invested £230m this year to deliver a step change across our infrastructure, launching two brand new purpose built Manufacturing and Distribution Centres (UK & USA), and significant expansion of our HQ campus in Cheshire, as we created over 1,000 new jobs in the year.

“We are well placed for 2017 and plan to make similar substantial infrastructure investments over the next 12 months, which should support future growth and significant new job creation.”

Performance marketing business HookLogic saw a 13.9% rise in online visits and 11.9% rise in transactions, compared to the same time last year. HookLogic Exchange data comes from retail searches on sites including Tesco, Asda, Argos, Curry’s and PC World in the UK. Shopping rose by 161%, year on year, at midnight, before peaking between 7am and 9am and 6pm and 9pm, with shoppers buying on the way to and from work. On average, it said, shoppers spent £91.30 on 1.8 items, averaging £50.55 per item.

Affiliate Window has reported a 27% rise in Black Friday online shopping. Through its data visualisation website it tracked online sales of £57m at UK ecommerce advertisers including Tesco, John Lewis, and Currys, equivalent to almost £40,000 a minute. It says that 42% of sales came via mobile devices, with smartphones behind almost a quarter of sales.

Anjulie Truong, operations director at Affiliate Window, said: “Despite what was a phenomenal day of online trading, this year we have seen Black Friday wasn’t just a one day event, with more advertisers starting their promotions earlier in the week. How this shift in trading will impact Christmas and January sales is yet to be seen, but what is clear is that Black Friday has secured its place as a key trading event for online marketing.”

But it seems that the number of people heading to the high street fell on Black Friday, according to figures from ShopperTrak. It says that Black Friday footfall was down by 8% compared to Black Friday 2015, and that might be down to a move by many retailers away from the single day event.

Steve Richardson, UK and MEA director at ShopperTrak, said: “This year the way retailers have implemented their Black Friday promotions have shifted, with many extending their discounting periods and moving away from the ‘single day flash sale’ model we saw in Black Fridays prior to 2014. For instance, both Amazon and Argos are offering Black Friday discounts for a period of almost 2 weeks.”

“By spreading demand out over a long period, these extension strategies remove the immediacy and sense of urgency to spur customers to rush into store in order to secure a Black Friday discount. This, combined perhaps with a little bit of Black Friday fatigue setting in amongst consumers, has led to the decrease in footfall in-store, down 8% year-on-year on Black Friday.”

Edward Cooke, chief executive of retail property body Revo, said: “In line with our predictions and the established trend, Black Friday has seen an increase in online retail sales, with shopper footfall declining in comparison to previous years.

“Despite this, overall retail sales are up, consumer spending remains relatively resilient post-Brexit and it is important to remember that around 90% of sales continue to involve a physical store in some way

“We are predicting that in the run up to the festive season most shoppers will still want to make purchases in person, browse, socialise or use stores to pick up goods they’ve ordered online, which reinforces the symbiotic nature of online and physical store shopping.”

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