The Black Friday Divide

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Whether you’re a fan or not, it has yet again been difficult to escape the Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotional activity of many retailers. This imported promotional window continues to take hold in the UK and seems to be occupying more bandwidth of both retailers and consumers.

We spoke to a number of MI retailers for their experiences of this year’s event to gauge opinion and see if we could draw any conclusions about its potency and future potential.

It’s fair to say we had a mixed bag of opinion and we have tried to distill this down into five takeaways.

1. Black Friday still divides opinion 

Irrespective of whether retailers were for or against this promotion, the one thing we found from everybody that we spoke to was they had a definite opinion about the event itself. Even with the relatively small sample we had, opinions were pretty much evenly split and very few were sitting on the fence on the subject.

2. We don’t appear to have hit ‘peak’ Black Friday

Of those companies that embraced the promotion, pretty much all reported a positive upturn in sales and confirmed they were already planning to take part again next year. Others who hadn’t did report that their sales had also been impacted which would suggest that consumer engagement around Black Friday is still very strong.

3. Black Friday is a call to action for Christmas shoppers

Pretty much everybody we spoke to agreed that trade in the weeks running up to Black Friday was cautious, with many consumers seemingly reluctant to commit for ‘Fear Of Missing Out’. This is interesting because many commentators were predicting that potential supply issues would be a bigger concern to shoppers this year than price.

4. A successful Black Friday involves a lot of preparation 

One leading retailer who specialises in e-commerce commented that although Black Friday had been very successful for them this year, it had involved an enormous amount of preparation and planning, both in terms of procurement of product and also the creation of social media content to highlight and support these offers.

5. Black Friday isn’t bringing any relief to the High Street

By the very nature of the way consumers shop over this weekend, it could be argued it is easier for retailers who predominantly trade online to embrace (and benefit from) this kind of activity. That isn’t to say that Bricks & Mortar stores don’t see a lift in trade, but it is interesting that many major retailers outside of MI who once championed Black Friday now give it little attention.

The challenges that High Street retailers face aren’t diminished in either the short or the long term by events such as Black Friday and the traditional January sales window will probably continue to drive more footfall to these stores.

This week’s drop-in is a chance for a quick temperature check on all things retail as we head into the final push for seasonal trade. We would love to hear about your experiences of the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday weekend along with a more general update on trade in the golden quarter so far. If you’d like to join us at 9am on Friday 3rd December, you can register here