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GUEST COMMENT Black Friday week – A £5bn online opportunity?

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Last year online sales during Black Friday exceeded the £1bn mark. Ecommerce consultancy company, Salmon, who correctly predicted last year’s Black Friday online sales would exceed £1bn are now predicting online sales for Black Friday 2016 in the UK will exceed £5bn.

It’s an online event

Black Friday 2014 and 2015 could not have been more different. 2014 saw shops overcrowded with queues and mayhem. Consumers learned from this and whilst in 2015 retailers prepared, opened earlier and waited for the onslaught of shoppers, no one came, instead they all went online.

Black Friday Week

How does the Black Friday sales jump from £1bn to £5bn in just one year? Well, in response to avoiding huge sales surges on just one day, retailers began to roll out Black Friday deals across a longer period, starting at the beginning of Black Friday Week through to the end of the Black Friday weekend.

As such Black Friday is no longer restricted to one day and we are slowly but surely seeing a shift to a ‘Black Friday Week’. Salmon’s £5bn prediction is based on this shift to a five day Black Friday event.

Retailers’ changing tactics

A lot of the well-known large retailers such as Currys and Argos changed their tactics last year to offer Black Friday deals not just for one day but over a five or seven day period.

Starting at the beginning of the Black Friday Week, retailers offered flash sales and introduced new offers each day to ensure consumers had a reason to keep coming back.

This allowed them to capture sales over a longer period and tries to prevent the website crashes of the previous years when Black Friday was limited to just one day, though we still saw this happening for some retailers last year.

Changing consumer behaviour

Knowing that Christmas is around the corner Black Friday presents the perfect opportunity for consumers to do their Christmas shopping. Not only are consumers shopping for bargains themselves but they are also doing the majority of their Christmas shopping during Black Friday.

Mobile boost

Last year, Google announced for the first time searches carried out on mobile devices overtook desktop, not just in the UK but globally. Google ‘forced’ retailers to make their websites mobile friendly to avoid being pushed lower down the search results. As retailers have improved their mobile shopping experiences consumers are now more comfortable making purchases on mobile devices.

Data from our own website showed mobile traffic was far higher than desktop last year in 2015. Consumers are shopping on their mobiles first thing as they wake up or as they are on their commute to work.

Interestingly we saw more traffic on Thursday than Friday, this is because retailers put deals live on Thursday evening and consumers stayed up to until midnight to see deals at their favourite retailers go live. On Friday the majority of the traffic came early in the morning as consumers were logging on as they wake up.

Here to stay

John Lewis recorded £187.7m during Black Friday Week last year. Store sales also went up by 9.3% on the Saturday after Black Friday suggesting consumers continued to bargain hunt on the high street over the weekend. According to IBM, Black Friday online sales increased 50% YoY from 2014.

Love or hate it, Black Friday is here to stay. It is one genie that can no longer be put back in the bottle. Retailers will have to find a way to embrace and adapt to Black Friday.

Sandeep Vadgama is the owner of

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