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Peak 2021 Why shoppers will (probably) spend less online than last Black Friday: IMRG

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

Shoppers are set to spend less online during the upcoming Black Friday period than they did last year – for the first time, says the IMRG. The “astronomical growth” seen in the locked down peak of 2020 will likely be followed by a fall in spending of up to 10% in 2021, according to research from the etail trade association. That would be the first time shoppers have spent less online over the Black Friday period than they did a year earlier. 

“This means,” says IMRG, “that for the first time, less money will be spent online on Black Friday than the previous year, but this does not mean volumes are low. They will be very high still. It’s just that those volumes are rationalising a bit following astronomical growth in 2020.”

IMRG predicts that Black Friday will continue to be the most important date for peak online spending, but suggests that spending may be more evenly spread over the four weeks of November. The organisation tracked Black Friday campaigns at 180 retailers over four years, between 2017 and 2020, and found businesses have steadily brought their Black Friday campaigns forward. In 2017 and 2018, campaigns tended to start in the week of Black Friday. By 2019, the number of retailers whose campaigns went live on the Monday before Black Friday week almost doubled to 19. A year later, during the November 2020 lockdown, 59 campaigns were live on that Monday. 

In 2018, says IMRG, 35% of Black Friday revenue came in Black Friday week, rising to 41% in 2019 before falling to 33% in 2020, as each of the other three weeks increase their share. That may well happen again this year, amid headlines flagging up supply chain delays and shortages. The day of Black Friday itself has remained the biggest spending day, however, with 20% of retail spending on the eight days of Black Friday week (Mon-Cyber Mon) taking place on Black Friday itself in 2019, and 22% in 2020. “This,” says IMRG, “may be related to the fatigue of campaigns running for such a long period – so while people want to get a good deal, many aren’t interested enough to monitor sites for weeks, preferring to just focus activity on a single day.”

IMRG polled 60 retailers on when they plan to launch their Black Friday campaigns in 2021 and found that 14% will launch them in the first week of November (this week), 19% in the second week and the same proportion in the fourth week, with the third week (33%) – the week before Black Friday week – the biggest week for launches. That’s up from 20% in 2020. Some 12% said they would launch before November, while 4% said they would not take part in Black Friday this year. 

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