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EDITORIAL As shoppers turn out for Black Friday online, how are retailers placed for the New Year?

Image: Fotolia

Shoppers seem to have turned out in force to buy for Christmas this Black Friday, but will that be enough to safeguard retailers in the New Year?

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting as figures suggest that shoppers are choosing to log on to buy this Black Friday, from those that stayed up after midnight to grab the best deals via mobile, to those that turned on once they got to work, from desktop computers. The suggested growth in shopping comes despite many shoppers reporting cynicism about deals: perhaps the deals are just too tempting. After all, analysis from LovetheSales suggests that more than half (51%) of all retail products are on sale today. 

But while evidence suggests that more people are buying today, and that more retailers are offering deals than ever before, we also report today on what retailers are saying about their New Year prospects. We report as Mothercare plans to keep closing stores, and predicts it will have fewer than 80 stores by March next year. Just five years ago the retailer was talking about focusing on a slimmed down estate of 200 profitable stores, at a time when 28% of its sales took place online. Now closer to 45% of its sales are online, and its fewer stores are moving towards a showroom model, with many shoppers ordering online from the store.

On the other hand, Majestic Wine says it’s growing sales by learning from its data, and doubling down on the things that work. Stores are a part of the long-term future of retail, says chief executive Rowan Gormley, but only if retailers focus on the experience. 

Mike Ashley of Sports Direct may have some answers when he goes to Westminster to speak to the parliamentary committee looking at the future of the high street on December 3. Having bought House of Fraser and Evans Cycles out of administration so far this year, he should have some insights to share. Certainly, he appears to believe there’s a future for high street retailing, but it seems that future may depend on lowering the cost of trading, from business rates to rents, from stores. 

We also report as the FTA raises another threat: the shortage of drivers in the logistics industry. “There’s no magic labour tree,” it says as it calls for European drivers to be allowed to work in the UK under new immigration rules.

Today’s guest comment comes from Steve Gershik of InRiver, who considers how retailers best focus on the customer experience. 

Image: Fotolia

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