Black Friday week total UK online sales are expected to reach £7 billion this year, a 164% increase on 2014 and 77% higher than Boxing Day 2017, according to Colliers International. This is reinforced by the decrease in the proportion of Brits shopping on Boxing Day in 2015 (32%) compared to 2016 (23%). At the same time, however, there are signs that Black Friday has turned into little more than a marketing gimmick.
Mark Phillipson, Head of Retail at Colliers International, comments: “Black Friday is evolving into a week-long plus event in the UK. We’ve seen a build-up of sales which we expect to peak on Friday. This is also a period in the year when retailers should be at full margins but, essentially, they are giving away some of their profits in order to compete for a higher share of consumer spending. However, there is degree of consumer scepticism as to whether any of the deals are actually any better than in standard sale periods, so in reality, it would also seem that Black Friday has just turned into a marketing event craze.”
The event is becoming much more of an online event since the violent scenes witnessed in 2014. Greater smartphone use and retailers’ much improved mobile websites are encouraging online purchasing. As a result, footfall was lower than anticipated in 2015 and 2016. Mark Charlton, Head of UK Research at Colliers International, says: “Black Friday is having a significant impact on consumer spending patterns, causing a sharper spike in sales earlier on in the Christmas run-up. In general, we expect the online sales increase to continue, with weaker footfall on the day itself and a higher surge in online traffic. Historically there has been a much more gradual increase in sales in the six weeks prior to Christmas, however what we are now witnessing is a potential decrease in consumer spending in the New Year sales due to the possibility of customers suffering from “sales” fatigue.”