Retail is no less subject to fashion than any other industry. So when Asda ‘imported’ Black Friday from the US (logical when you consider they are a division of Walmart) it seemed a new ‘hot’ trend had arrived on the retail block.
Experian and IMRG predict transactions will reach £1.07bn on this year’s Black Friday, which falls on 27 November (the day after ‘Thanksgiving’ in the US). Many retailers were caught out last year by stock issues, crowd control and websites in meltdown due to high demand. There were also concerns about whether sales are cannibalising full price Christmas sales and how this phenomenon is impacting the overall pattern of Christmas trading.
It seems somewhat ironic, but Asda have announced that they will not be taking part in Black Friday this year, citing consumer fatigue and the desire to invest in the whole period rather than one day, though scenes of mayhem in their stores in 2014 may also have prompted this decision. However, many other retailers will be going ahead - presumably with the benefit of improved logistics and learning from last year.
Ultimately consumers love it.....96% of Black Friday 2014 purchasers said they were happy or very happy with what they bought (Retail Week). And the figures are there to prove it.....Black Friday online UK sales increased 91.6 percent over 2013, with Cyber Monday up 22.6 percent year-over-year. The big winner was mobile. Black Friday mobile traffic accounted for 59.8 percent of all online traffic in the UK, an increase of 30.3 percent over the previous year (IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark).
Across the globe there are other possible ‘imports’ waiting in the wings. China’s singles' event – the so-called 'double eleven' (11/11) – started when singleton students wanted an excuse to buy themselves a present. Since then the event’s growth -like much in modern China - has been astounding, eclipsing both the US’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last year 27,000 merchants took part, with Alibaba’s e-commerce sites generating £6.1bn in sales.
So it seems that to keep ‘in the black’ retailers will need to box clever with analytics to understand how best to take advantage of ‘Black Friday’ and other events that may follow.
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