Shoppers spent £1.49bn online with UK retailers on Black Friday, according to IMRG estimates. That was 7.3% ahead of the same day last year, but didn’t meet IMRG forecasts of +13.2%. Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, says this might be down to the decision by more retailers to start their Black Friday campaigns early. It tracks 260 retail websites throughout November and found that by the Monday (November 19) of Black Friday week, 40% of retailers tracked had seen their campaigns go live. A year earlier, 36% had live campaigns at that point in the month.
"These longer campaign durations seem to have been successful in pulling volume forward," said Mulcahy. He says sales of electricals were 24% up, year-on-year, on Monday and stayed high on Tuesday (+16.5%) and Wednesday (+17%). "On Black Friday itself, sales growth for electricals was just +0.6%, suggesting much of the high-cost purchasing had already been done earlier in the week," he said. Finally, Black Friday fell well ahead of December’s payday, meaning some people who might have bought may not have had money to spend.
Shopping comparison site Kelkoo Group said it saw a 29% year on year increase in traffic over the Black Friday weekend.
Kelkoo’s data suggests that the number of online shoppers increased by 34% over Black Friday compared to the previous weekend, from 36.2m shoppers searching for products through Kelkoo last weekend to 48.4m consumers on Black Friday.
“Online retailers continue to meet consumer demand for convenience and an enhanced user experience to attract and retain customers, whilst traditional retailers lurch from one financial struggle to another," said Richard Stables, chief executive of Kelkoo. "It’s been a challenging year on the high street but clearly the growth opportunity is online. With an increase in shopping from mobile devices, and more consumers looking to score bargains on the go, it is no surprise that the ecommerce industry is going from strength to strength.”
Amazon said Cyber Monday was the single biggest shopping day in its history. More products were ordered worldwide than on any other previous day. Amazon customers worldwide ordered more than 18m toys and more than 13m fashion items on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, combined.
“Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to break records on Amazon year over year, which tells us that customers love shopping for deals to kick off the holiday shopping season,” stated Jeff Wilke, CEO worldwide consumer at Amazon.
Doddle says Black Friday parcel volumes grew by 115% on this time last year, with volumes on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 November up by 216% on the week before as a result of the Black Friday effect, compared to 101% at this time last year.
Volumes from the Monday before Black Friday to the Sunday immediately following it were up 76% on the week before, demonstrating, says Doddle, that the once 24-hour shopping event, has this year become firmly established as a week-long phenomenon. In 2017 volumes from the Monday before Black Friday to the Sunday immediately after increased by 50% and in 2016 by 42% (significantly less than the 76% this year).
Commenting on the figures Tim Robinson, Doddle chief executive, said: "2018 is the year that Black Friday became Black Monday to Monday – a solid week of discounting and deals. In some cases the week has even been a month.
‘Impressive year on year parcel volume growth shows that price conscious consumers have responded well to the prolonged Black Friday shopping trend overall. But retailers will have a harder time than ever in future years capturing shoppers’ imagination and sustaining it through such a prolonged sales season. The shift will have to move from price only to price plus experience to create true differentiation.’
Most online spending took place online over Black Friday, says footfall analyst Springboard, while visitor numbers to stores were hit hard. On Black Friday itself, footfall was 5.4% down compared to the same time last year, and continued to be down over Saturday (-5.6%) and Sunday (-4.3%). Online, by contrast, Loqate showed online transactions 46% ahead of last year on Friday.
Visitor numbers to shopping centres (-8.3% compared to the previous year) were hit hardest on Friday and stayed down over the weekend. Visitors to high streets were also down (-4%) on Friday, and at a similar level over the weekend. However, footfall was up by 8.6% on Friday compared to the previous Friday although Saturday was only level with the previous Saturday and on Sunday it was slightly ahead (+2.2%).
Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: "The drop in footfall to bricks and mortar stores over Black Friday weekend is a reflection of the larger discounts offered online. Online is open for business 24 hours a day and is therefore seen as a more convenient option for shoppers. Throughout the weekend, the drop in footfall was most dramatic in shopping centres; the stronger resilience of high streets and retail parks in comparison is likely to be a function of their wider range of hospitality outlets compared with shopping centres." She added: "Discounts continue on Cyber Monday, however, given that Black Friday discounts were made available throughout the week in advance of the day itself and have continued over the weekend, it is likely that the impetus to make purchases will largely be over."
Last year footfall declined by -6.1% on Cyber Monday from Cyber Monday in 2016, says Springboard, and over the past three years footfall on Cyber Monday has been between 15% and 18% lower than on Black Friday.