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EDITORIAL Navigating uncertainty as Black Friday approaches

Black Friday: tomorrow all will become clear(er) (Image: Shutterstock)

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re reporting as we go into Black Friday week with a certain level of uncertainty. Questions remain about whether shoppers will buy their Christmas shopping at a discount this week or not, about how much they’ll spend, and about how far the supply chain crisis has already brought forward sales. In today’s Peak 2021 round-up we’re looking at how leading retailers are approaching Black Friday, and sharing some of the latest research into customer spending patterns. And in today’s guest comment, Lee Miles of Sitecore, considers how retailers can recover the lost Christmas of 2020. 

That uncertainty about peak spending is reflected in AO’s half-year figures, which show that the retailer is seeing sales “significantly softer” than it expected just eight weeks ago, as a result of factors including lower product availability following the ongoing supply chain crisis, caused in part by the Covid-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, it still believes the long-term momentum is in the shift online that was accelerated during the pandemic, and it is investing accordingly in measures including a new creative hub that’s set to open in London to produce product content. 

Figures from Very this week suggest that the online retailer, which saw strong online sales in pandemic lockdowns, is now starting to see spending patterns return to more traditional ones, with more spending on clothing and footwear and less on homewares than a year ago.

And it’s interesting to see that Pets at Home, relatively unconstrained by the much publicised supply chain problems thanks to domestic sourcing, long-life products and competitive pay for its drivers, is predicting continued growth. Shoppers, it says, want the speed and convenience that omnichannel services such as one-hour collection and deliver from store give, and it is investing further in the online experience and in data in order to improve their experience further. 

Today we report on social commerce, as beauty app Agora launches a marketplace to connect brands and products with users via livestreaming, and as Lush says it’s taking a step away from social media – specifically Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. Finally, we report as Menkind expands its presence in the gifts and gadgets market through the acquisition of Hawkin’s Bazaar and Stocking Fillers.

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