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Retailers must prepare for a Black Friday likely to be UK’s first £1bn day for online spending

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UK shoppers are set to spend more than £1bn in a single day for the first time this Black Friday – and retailers must be prepared, IMRG and Experian have warned.

They predict that Christmas shoppers will collectively spend £1.07bn during the course of the day, which this year falls on November 27. That represents a rise of 32% from £810m at the same time last year.

James Miller, senior retail consultant at Experian Marketing Services, added: “The 2015 Christmas period is on track to be another record year for online retail in the UK. We expect that Black Friday will continue to break new ground for online shopping, passing the billion pound mark for the first time.”

Also forecasted are a range of peak days that are likely to see fast growth on last year, from Cyber Monday (November 30, £943m, +31%) and Manic Monday (December 7, £733m, +10%) to Christmas Day (£728m, +11%), Boxing Day (£856m, +22%) and New Year’s Day (£638m, +33%).

This means, says the IMRG and Experian, that retailers must be well prepared to avoid another ‘retail tsunami’ such as that which led to carrier and retailer operations alike being overwhelmed by demand on Black Friday 2014.

Justin Opie, managing director at IMRG , said: “The size and scale of Black Friday 2014 took everyone by surprise, overwhelming some carrier and retailer operations, as order volumes came in at a full 30% higher than expectation. All the indicators point to a much larger Black Friday this year – both in terms of greater numbers of retailers taking part and growing shopper interest – so the opportunity is vast, but there are many things to consider if it is to be managed efficiently and effectively.

“The first is that we expect Black Friday to become the ‘Black Friday period’ for some retailers, who will run campaigns over several days or even weeks. Also last year anticipation of Black Friday led to a slow start to the Christmas shopping season and panic-discounting by some, which impacted on profit margins. So the availability and rate of discounts will need to be rationalised this year for it to be sustainable.

“Finally it’s important to ensure that customers get the delivery experience they have been promised. Retailers should remember that many shoppers will be happy to wait longer than normal to have their orders delivered if it’s still several weeks until Christmas Day. This will help to ease the strain on fulfilment operations, should bottlenecks occur, but the most important thing is that customers know when to expect their delivery to arrive.”

Experian’s Miller added: “With consumers now expecting great bargains and trouble free service, retailers must ensure that they have planned their marketing strategies and logistics around these key dates, with carefully prepared cross-channel campaigns, engaging the right customers, via the right media.

“The different types of customer driving the pre- and post- Christmas sales rush must also be taken into account. Retailers should be aware of the strain that will be placed on delivery networks in the run up to Christmas, and also provide a good level of in-store support for the Boxing Day and New Year’s Day rush.”

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