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EDITORIAL How to create long-term growth out of the short-term Peak

This newsletter arrives in your inbox right in the middle of Cyber weekend – and hopefully you are too busy to read it. As it is too early yet to say how Black Friday went, this week we shall take a different tack and look at what growth strategies we can glean from the peak season sales-bonanza and how they may translate into something that has a more year-round impact.

One thing we do expect the post Black Friday data to show us is that the Peak phenomenon is now one that is a longer, shallower affair, that starts early, reaches perhaps a lower peak that in previous years, but which then has a halo effect on sales long past the date – right up to Christmas at least, perhaps even as far as the January sales.

So suggests research by Conversant, which also suggests that this new ‘shape’ of Peak trading is also attracing new customers and making them more sticky, thanks to Black Friday now being much more of a digital affair.

This is backed up by research from Accenture, which finds that the retail sector may see the boost from spending in the new year, with nearly half of shoppers planning to leave most of their shopping to the last weekend before Christmas, followed by 42% preferring to leave it to post-Christmas and Boxing Day.

Interestingly, Cyber Monday (that’s tomorrow), the dedicated online shopping peak day by tradition, is the least popular with UK shoppers, finds Accenture. This reinforces two things: firstly, Black Friday is now as much an online phenomenon as an in-store one – Vouchercodes research predicts that, while offline sales (£4.80bn) are still anticipated to outstrip online purchases in 2019 (£3.77bn), online sales are expected to grow by 8.3%, with in-store forecasts dropping 0.2% on last year – and secondly, it reinforces the view that peak is now spreading out.

The final thing we can learn from Black Friday this year is that shoppers have changed, yet again, how they shop and the winners in peak 2019 – and those that will take that into 2020 and beyond – are the ones that have adopted a range of new tactics to satisfy these changing demands.

According to Nikola McNicol-Kenney, VP Small Business Segment, UKI at Sage in this Guest Comment piece, the winners are going to be those that put into practice this peak all those things we have learned through the year.

She believes that retailers that put on demonstrations, create experiences, leverage wish lists, offer alternative spread payments and generally give the shoppers what they want this Black Friday will not only win over peak, but will also pull customers back in the months ahead.

McNicol-Kenney also points out that, as ever, this all has to work on the day – so your tech has to be up to it – as does the security. But get that all right and offer a great experience – as well as some great bargains – and you could well be setting yourself up for growth in the coming months ahead. Good luck.

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