How is Argos approaching Black Friday and Christmas 2015?
Argos has already warned on its profits ahead of Black Friday 2015, saying that the unpredictable nature of the event meant it was difficult to give guidance on what this Christmas season would mean for it. So how is the retailer's strategy for this year unfolding?
Early indications are that the trader is looking to make Christmas 2015 less of a rushed one-day affair. It's encouraging shoppers to buy well before Black Friday itself falls on November 27. It's offering free same-day delivery to those spending £50 or more from now until November 24, three days clear of that date. It's also introducing sales every Friday in the run-up. Today is Red Friday, with a five-day offering of cut-price deals. In the future we can also look forward to a White Friday and a Blue Friday as well as the now much-anticipated Black Friday.
Argos, an Elite retailer in InternetRetailing's IRUK500
research, was clear last year that the Black Friday rush didn't deliver a meaningful boost to its bottom line. While it saw sales on Black Friday 2014 grow by 45%, with 13.5m visitors arrive through digital channels on that day alone, when it came to announce its figures, it was clear that for all the noise and fuss there had been barely any sales growth. In a trading statement
for the 18 weeks to January 3, the retailer reported sales of £1.8bn, 0.1% up on the same time last year. This year the trader has already warned
that it is difficult to predict profitability over a now inherently unpredictable time of year.
At the time, John Walden, chief executive of Argos' parent company the Home Retail Group , said Argos had adopted a more cautious trading approach to last Christmas that had protected profitability even if it didn't boost overall sales. This year the strategy is to take the emphasis away from just one day.
Argos managing director David Robinson says getting a good deal shouldn't be about waiting for one particular day. "Christmas shopping is stressful enough without doing it all in one weekend," he said, "that’s why we want to make every Friday a ‘feel-good’ one with many fantastic deals every single week until Christmas. We will ensure every Brit has a chance to put more pounds in their pockets.”
UPDATE: In the event, it seems that Argos customers were very eager to get hold of an early bargain. During the first weekend of its series of discount events, Red Friday, which fell on November 6, its website was down for several hours on Sunday afternoon. In a statement, the retailer said: "We are extremely sorry for the temporary service issues our customers were experiencing on our website yesterday afternoon. We have identified the issue and our site is now up and running. We sincerely apologise to any customer who has tried to contact us unsuccessfully and we are working to respond to all enquiries as soon as we can.
"Customers have been able to transact today (Monday) in our national store network and take advantage of our current offers, including 3 for 2 on toys. We apologise if any customer has experienced problems with a home delivery and will be in contact to resolve this as soon as possible."