The much anticipated annual sales event is back! Black Friday is the date in everyone’s calendar to bag the biggest and the best deals on everything from clothing to home essentials, to must-have gadgets. With only 4 weeks to go until Christmas, what can we expect to see from this year’s event?
Black Friday was first introduced in the UK in 2010 by the online retail giant, Amazon. Since then, the discount event has been adopted by most of the biggest names in retail, including Currys, John Lewis and M&S. However, many retailers have changed their approach to the Black Friday weekend with the likes of Amazon and Currys now offering deals throughout the month, now hailing it ‘Black November’.
Cyber Monday concludes the weekend of discounted goods, rounding off one of the busiest trading periods of the year. First introduced in the US in 2005, the Monday following Black Friday became known as Cyber Monday due to the spike in online sales after Thanksgiving. According to Charged Retail, Cyber Monday 2020 was the most successful digital sales day in history until it was surpassed by this year’s Amazon Prime Day on the 21st of June.
Perhaps the biggest question on every retailer’s mind is: will Black Friday 2021 recover from the drop in last year’s sales? Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, 2020 saw a huge drop in Black Friday sales in the UK, accounting for half a billion pounds in lost sales compared to the previous year. This came despite a significant increase in online sales over the same period, with data from Nosto showing that online revenue increased 23% in 2020.
Search data from September 2021 shows that over 10% of global searches for ‘Black Friday’ originated from the UK, which suggests that Brits love a bargain. With online sales growth predicted to be over 20% for 2021, the total value for the Black Friday weekend is estimated to be a staggering £9.42bn, an increase of almost £1.5bn from 2020 and almost £1bn from 2019. Around £2bn is expected to come from Cyber Monday alone.
According to a recent survey conducted by Finder, the average spend per customer is predicted to be around £275 per customer, with women spending less than men, accounting for £190 on average across the Black Friday weekend. Gen X is predicted to spend the most compared to the other age groups over the weekend, with a third of customers engaging in self-gifting purchases, as well as shopping for Christmas presents.
As retailers await with bated breath the results of this year’s Black Friday event, consumers are already aware of how they are going to make their purchases. So what trends should we expect this Black Friday? Here are the top 5 shopping trends to look out for.
The rise of payment services like Klarna in recent years has grown exponentially, boasting over 90 million active customers spending across 250,000 retailers in 17 different countries. Buy now, pay later enables customers to spread the cost of purchases over a 3-month period, which is particularly popular when spending greater amounts of money.
Delayed payment options, like Klarna, have long been embraced by digitally native generations, such as Millennials and Gen Z. However, during the pandemic, Klarna experienced massive growth with Gen X customers, now making it the second-largest age segment for UK consumer spending.
Sustainability has never been more prevalent, especially when it comes to shopping. More and more consumers are becoming conscious of the impact their shopping habits have on the environment, so it’s no surprise that sustainability is a key trend to look out for on Black Friday.
This is evidenced in statistics such as the study by IBM that found 55% of consumers view sustainability as very or extremely important when choosing a brand. In fact, the study concludes that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted 90% of consumers’ views on sustainability. Over 71% of consumers are also willing to pay extra for a product or service that promotes social justice or sustainability.
Retailers are now competing with each other on social media platforms, thanks to the likes of Facebook shopping ads and Instagram shopping. Social platforms are becoming an increasingly optimised selling arena; detailed user data enables retailers to tailor content specifically to target audiences and maximise ROI.
On Instagram alone, over 130 million accounts tap on shopping posts to learn more about products every single month. Facebook boasts even more impressive figures, with over 2.7 billion monthly active users clicking on an average of 12 ads per month. This equates to a staggering 32.8 billion ad clicks every single month!
This should come as no surprise to anyone that Amazon is the consumer’s go-to retailer of choice for Black Friday deals. Amazon has proven itself to be a massive online sales platform with a huge monopoly, boasting a 30% share in the UK’s e-commerce market. With almost 90% of UK shoppers using Amazon, its subscription model – Amazon Prime – eliminates shipping costs, which is a significant barrier to purchase.
In-store shopping is back! Shopping in physical stores was sorely missed last year due to the lockdown. The return of in-store shopping on Black Friday provides a great opportunity for customers to see and experience products before purchase – something that we took for granted pre-pandemic. However, the growth in physical sales is predicted to be a mere 7% on last year’s figures, and certainly nowhere near its peak in 2019.
The shift to online sales that was mandated by the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be a permanent effect, which has led retailers to re-evaluate how their stores serve the buying journey. Many brands are currently experimenting with their physical stores, transforming them into experience centres and product showrooms. Advances like these enable consumers to engage with a physical product prior to purchase, but ultimately retailers accept that the majority of their sales will occur online as opposed to in-store.
Black Friday is a major event for several retailers, who use it as an opportunity to either raise their profile or gain new customers. Brands like Aldi and Currys use the event to compete with like-for-like retailers, while also retaining their existing customer base over the festive period. A poor Black Friday event can cost brands customers who are difficult to win back, especially during the Christmas season – a pivotal moment for many retailers.
Amazon began its Black Friday deals during the second week of November, unlike last year which saw the online giant launch them at the start of the month. This could be seen as a signal to other retailers that listing deals too early robs the period of the immediacy that drives these sales. Currys, on the other hand, launched its deals on the 4th of November in an attempt to entice early-bird shoppers and stretch out its discounts over two pay cheques instead of one.
Although John Lewis launched some early Black Friday deals on the 19th of November, its “Never Knowingly Undersold” promise sees the retailer price-matching all high-street competitors. As a result, John Lewis is not entirely in control over its Black Friday offers, but it does mean consumers can bag themselves a bargain.
Aldi, on the other hand, is a bit of a wild card. Participating in the Black Friday sales for the first time in 2020, Aldi gained media attention that won over customers who have turned to the supermarket for their long-term food shopping habits. The products Aldi offered last year were significantly discounted, so it’s highly likely that these deals were designed as loss-leaders, driving footfall and ad-on sales.
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