The way people shop over Black Friday and Christmas tells us far more than how people are getting on with their present shopping. The changing way that shoppers are buying becomes magnified thanks to the sheer volume of transactions at this time of year. In addition, time-pressured shoppers look for, and adopt, new ways of doing things that they may then continue over the rest of the year. With this in mind, InternetRetailing is devoting a regular twice-weekly slot to peak shopping season 2017, highlighting the stories that struck us as most interesting over the last few days. Today the focus is firmly on the approach to Black Friday.
The Entertainer and MandM Direct have now launched their Black Friday deals, adding to a line-up of retailers including Wiggle and Currys PC World that are already offering discounts. They'll no doubt be focusing on the slower retail growth highlighted by recent sales figures from the ONS and others, both online and offline, and looking to win what spending is available.
These early starts to Black Friday seem to reflect analysis from LovetheSales.com
which has found an unusual increase in the volume of products on sale in October as it gathered information on sales from 700 websites. It found that discounting sales were up by 43% on the previous year. "Normally the volume of sale products in October remains steady, but through October 2017 there was a continual rise," said Stuart McClure, CMO, LovetheSales.com. "News of the decline in spending in October (YoY) demonstrates exactly why we have seen this increase. Retailers are struggling to keep consumers spending - there reaction to this has been to increase the volume of offers they have available."
• Meanwhile, Zalando says its Black Friday sales will be starting at the beginning of Cyber Week. “We’ll start with flash sales in Premium, Sports, Winter and Partywear, offering Black Friday prices in the lead-up to the day itself," said Delphine Mousseau, vice president markets at Zalando. "Every day presents another deal for our customers across Europe, peaking on Friday with discounts of up to 70%." Offers will be different across its markets, with members of its Zalando Lounge shopping club receiving an extra 10% discount. The retailer will be looking to see if it breaks its 2017 peak record of more than 1,500 orders a minute.
Amazon's trend insights
Amazon has released data showing what shoppers spend on at Black Friday. It's looked back at its top 10 Black Friday bestsellers since it originated the event in the UK since 2010 and suggests that the bestselling items remain electronics and tech, including its own range of Kindles. Video games, DVDs and CDs have also made the leaderboard, from Toy Story 3 in 2010 to Fifa 17 last year.
Last year’s top Prime No Black Friday buys also included an Oral-B Genius 9000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush from Braun, and Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition, both for Xbox One.
Amazon UK country manager Doug Gurr said: “We introduced Black Friday in the UK back in 2010 because we believed that customers would be excited by the prospect of getting incredible deals on great gifts just a handful of weeks before Christmas. The customer response in that first year confirmed that belief. Fast forward seven years and Black Friday is one of the biggest days in the shopping calendar not only here in the UK but also now in many countries around the world.”
It also points to the rise in the number of smaller businesses taking part in the event through its marketplace.
Is there shopper appetite for Black Friday?
Just 1% of shoppers will start their Christmas shopping on Black Friday, found a study from digital insights company Toluna and etail trade association IMRG. But most (62%) will be starting well ahead of that, perhaps as they look to spread the cost. Almost a third (31%) said they'd be starting before November, 16% in early November and 15% in mid-November. Eight per cent will start during Cyber Week but not on Black Friday itself.
Paul Twite, managing director Europe and MENA of Toluna
, said: “While Black Friday is an important date for pre-Christmas shopping, the fact that most people have already started shopping for those on their ‘nice’ list shows they’re keen to spread the cost of Christmas over several months. For retailers, it means there are many sales opportunities prior to 24th November that they should be taking advantage of.”
Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director of IMRG , said: “Black Friday is probably the most important date in the retail calendar when volumes reach an annual high but, as this survey suggests, the Christmas shopping period still extends over a very long period. This is because different people approach shopping in different ways; retailers report that searches for ‘Christmas’ start to rise as early as July each year, while other people might only start thinking about it the week of Christmas itself. The opportunity is to identify these different segments and develop targeting strategies for each over that period as appropriate."
• Meanwhile, a fifth (19%) of shoppers say they're looking to snap up Black Friday deals this year, research from Retail Economics suggests, while 62% say they'll spend less than last year - of whom a quarter (25%) said they lacked the interest to take part.
Almost a quarter (24%) of respondents to the research, carried out for Retail Week, suggested that electricals were the most likely product they would purchase during Black Friday and a third said they would do more shopping online this year. However, 46% of retailers expected Black Friday demand to be higher than last year.
“Fading demand for Black Friday is not necessarily a bad thing for retailers who would rather see incremental spend spread across the whole of the Christmas season than discounted sales pulled forward at the expense of future demand," said Richard Lim, chief executive, Retail Economics
. "It also eases pressure on capacity constraints for retailers who have previously struggled with crowded stores, failing websites and poor customer experiences.”