Shoppers set to spend over £10bn Black Friday bonanza
Higher prices and increased retailer participation will drive Black Friday spend this year with total sales over the period set to rise 3.8%.
Spend during the Black Friday period, defined as Monday 20-Monday 27 November 2017, is forecast to grow 3.8% on 2016 (Monday 21-Monday 28 November 2016) to £10.1bn, accounting for 10.4% of total Q4 spend. Although growth is forecast to slow year-on-year, we expect more retailers to take part in the event this year in an attempt to stimulate the waning demand they have faced over September and October.
What can we expect from Black Friday 2017?
Eleanor Parr, retail analyst at GlobalData says: “Electrical sales are expected to continue to dominate Black Friday promotions, although year-on-year growth is forecast to slow to 3.0%, due to inflation in the market discouraging spend”.
While electricals have traditionally been the main focus of the event, over the past two years fashion retailers such as ASOS and Topshop have improved their Black Friday offers, driving spend in this market. Furthermore, health & beauty performed well in 2016, with department stores such as House of Fraser, Selfridges and John Lewis offering strong discounts on branded fragrances and cosmetics. Strong growth is expected in this sector in 2017 if these deals are replicated.
Although the smallest proportion of the market, homewares is forecast to experience the strongest year-on-year growth of 5.9%. Poor sales in homewares throughout the year, driven by consumers’ drive to cut down on discretionary purchases, will mean more retailers will feel the need to participate in Black Friday, in an attempt to stimulate demand and sell through slow moving lines.
Strong inflation in the market means retailers will struggle to offer the low prices seen in 2016. This year retailers’ margins have been hit as suppliers have been forced to raise prices due to increased production costs following the devaluation of the pound. As a result, retailers have been forced to increase prices in an attempt to mitigate margin loss. This has mainly affected the electricals sector but those who trade in fashion and homewares have also been impacted.
Increased cost prices will mean retailers are unable to offer the level of discounts advertised in 2016, meaning demand may waver as consumers feel less inclined to make bargain purchases on impulse. As a result, retailers will need to be creative with how they advertise Black Friday promotions this year, for example promoting multi-buy offers or free gifts with purchases if they cannot afford to offer large discounts.
A lower proportion of Black Friday spend will fall on the Friday. When Black Friday was first exported from the US to the UK the event promised impressive discounts for one day only. However, over time retailers have taken the opportunity to extend the event, both to encourage more consumers to participate but also to relieve operational pressures. In 2016, most retailers advertised their Black Friday deals as starting on the Friday and finishing on Cyber Monday, however Amazon took this further advertising a Black Friday sale running for 12 days between 14-25 November and has already highlighted its sale will run for at least 10 days this year.
In 2017 we expect more retailers to extend their promotional calendars to include the whole week before Black Friday in an attempt to stimulate demand as they continue to struggle this quarter. Furthermore, as more retailers advertise their Black Friday deals early, other players will be forced to participate to remain competitive. This is particularly tricky for retailers that price match, such as John Lewis, which will have no choice but to bring down prices early, impacting margins and stock levels. Retailers must prepare by ensuring they have the operational capacities to cope with an influx in trade over a sustained period.”
However, as Black Friday approaches, CEO Alan Hawkins wants you to hold margin.
In the latest bira Member Magazine, Alan Hawkins comments: “You all know your own business model and many retailers buy in deals to justify the lower prices during Sale events like Black Friday. I would caution you, however, against over-discounting stock that you will have to replace at your normal buy-in prices, especially as presently many retailers are taking a margin hit rather than passing on wholesale price rises to their customers.”