The way shoppers buy over Black Friday and Christmas tells us far more than how they are getting on with their gift purchases. 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. This week, the focus is on Singles Day and on retailer PC World Currys as it launches its Black Friday deals.
Singles Day: the figures
Retailers sold merchandise worth £19.3bn ($25.3/RMB168.2 billion) during the course of Singles Day, Alibaba Group has said. The amount settled through the group's Alipay payment solution during the course of November 11 was 39% up on the same day last year. Ninety per cent of the total was spent via mobile devices – up from 82% the previous year. The first delivery, of 812m processed by the Cainiao Network, arrived 12 minutes and 18 seconds after midnight.
“More than US$25 billion of GMV in one day is not just a sales figure,” said Daniel Zhang, chief executive of Alibaba Group . “It represents the aspiration for quality consumption of the Chinese consumer, and it reflects how merchants and consumers alike have now fully embraced the integration of online and offline retail.”
Marketplace Alibaba's theme for the event, which made products from 60,000 international brands and retailers available to Chinese consumers, was the New Retail. New experiences from augmented and virtual reality to paying via facial recognition or using scan and deliver technology appeared 60 pop-up stores set up around China for the event, each offering different experiences. It aimed to make the day a bigger one than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.
One of the British retailers taking part was Whittard of Chelsea . Its chief executive Mark Dunhill said: "Bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, Singles’ Day has become one of the most important days in our calendar.
"We are very aware of the value of Singles’ day. In 2016 alone, we sold more during that one day on Alibaba’s ecommerce platform than one of our top high-street stores in a week. The success, in part, rested on the popularity of our hot chocolate – a category that we are perhaps less well known for, but which is growing very fast due to the quality and breadth of our range. Indeed, as a result of our work on the Alibaba platform we are now one of China’s leading importers of this category."
Leading Chinese retailer JD.com
said its Singles Day transactions had grown by more than 50% year-on-year, reaching $19.1bn. Its transactions for the day included more than 2m hairy crabs, 200m kilograms of rice, and 1.5bn nappies.
Commenting on the figures, Don Zhao, co-founder of ecommerce solutions business Azoya
, said: “Although dominated by Alibaba, which accounted for 66.23% of these sales, one interesting trend is the gradual globalisation of the event. This is only the second year that international goods have been available to buy on Singles Day, and Amazon China performed strongly, making up 1.95% of overall sales and 7.3% of overseas sales. By comparison, only 5.4% of sales on Alibaba and 4.9% of JD.com were international.
"Overseas retailers which operate through their own Chinese language websites performed well too. For example, Feelunique, the British online beauty retailer, saw an increase of 195% in orders on Singles Day and an uplift in conversions of 223% compared to the previous 24 hours.
"It will be interesting to see how these figures compare with international sales on Black Friday in China, which is becoming ever more popular with shoppers there. With mobiles accounting for 90% of sales transactions in Singles Day, it certainly looks like this will be the shopping device of choice that day too.”
Currys PC World asks why wait for Black Friday?
Currys and PC World Black Friday deals are underway as the retailer looks to encourage shoppers saving their money for Black Friday to spend it early. Its Why Wait? campaign features hundreds of early deals on items from KitchenAid mixers and HP laptops to Dyson vacuum cleaners and Samsung and JVC smart TVs. Currys PC World guarantees its prices will not be cut again, in a bid to give shoppers the confidence they are getting the lowest prices.
Matt Walburn, brand and communications director at Dixons Carphone said: “Black Friday is still one of the most important dates in both retailers and consumers shopping calendar but it’s great to be able to offer products at a discounted price before the big rush on the 24th November.
“Whether consumers are starting to plan for Christmas or just fancy treating themselves, the fantastic deals across all categories on hundreds of products ensures everyone can enjoy the season of deals without having to wait for Black Friday itself”.
SMEs set to take Black Friday to a wider audience
Black Friday shoppers may see a wider selection of deals this year, according to Amazon, which has published new YouGov research released today suggesting that 23% of small and medium-sized retail businesses are looking at participating in Black Friday, up from 14% who say they participated last year. More than a third (35%) say that Black Friday is one of the most important days trading days each year, with 82% of those participating expecting to sell more stock on Black Friday than on an average day.
Small businesses taking part through Amazon Marketplace are preparing, says Amazon for "record-breaking" Black Friday sales, offering deep discounts throughout its event. Amazon's Black Friday Sale starts at 00.00 on November 17 and continues till 23.59 on Sunday November 26.
Shopper numbers set to decline on Black Friday
A Black Friday fall in footfall is predicted by retail intelligence business Springboard. It says shopper numbers will be 0.6% down on November 24, compared to the previous year. The company expects to see this decline for the first time since 2013, thanks to increasing constraints on households budgets, with both interest rates and inflation up.
But while it expects footfall to be down overalll, it predicts retail parks will experience a modest increase in footfall for Black Friday up by 0.1%, year-on-year.
Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard , said: “As well as consumers being more cautious with their spending habits due to inflation and interest rates rises, sales have also already started so there is no big moment in the lead up to Black Friday. This will certainly affect footfall across the country for the Black Friday Weekend. Consumers simply won’t be as eager to spend because they have less money in their pockets and they have already been spoilt for choice as retailers have unusually run sales in the last few months, crucially outside of the traditional discount periods.”
Despite the drop in footfall year on year, Springboard predicts that footfall will increase 18% on Black Friday compared to the previous week, with UK high streets seeing visitor numbers up by 20%, week on week.