Bringing much-needed cash back into retailers’ pockets, Black Friday has been a vital date in their calendars since Asda brought the American shopping-spree holiday to these shores in 2013. But while the retail bonanza offers a health check of sorts for Britain’s high streets, it seems the retail landscape in 2017 has proven much harder to diagnose.
As Cyber Monday kicks off, the initial results of Black Friday have begun rolling in and at a first glance they seem quite encouraging. Based on research of 4,000 non-food retailers, Ipsos Retail Performance, the retail consultants, calculated that footfall in British stores rose by 0.95% on Black Friday in comparison to 2016, with 42% of retailers experiencing footfall growth. Similarly, Barclaycard, the payment-service provider, noted a 7% increase in spending on the day and a 32% rise in the number of transactions.
However, not all analysts offered such a rosy perspective. Springboard, the retail-performance-insights provider, reported that footfall had dropped by 4.2% since last year, significantly lower than the expected 0.6% decline, and that the number of shoppers was down by 3.6%. Attempting an explanation, Springboard suggested that the slump could be down to a squeeze on household income and the fact that consumers are aware that discounts started well before Friday and will continue for a period afterwards. Another reason could be that retailers are increasingly promoting their offers online rather than in store.
Fortunately, sombre as that that data might be, it seems as if Cyber Monday could bring some much-needed cheer to UK retailers. This year Britons are expected to splash out £7.8bn between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is a 7% rise over last year, according to the Centre for Retail Research and VoucherCodes, the voucher and deal-tracking platform.
Commenting on the Black Friday results, Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: “The million-pound question on everyone’s lips now is how will Christmas shopping fare in the wake of the Black Friday promotional campaigns? Last year, sales were pulled forward by the increased November activity and, as we move into December, we’re expecting to see a repeat of last year’s pattern with footfall slow to build after Black Friday has taken the stuffing out of bargain-hunters but we’re predicting a resurgence of activity in the last week before Christmas.”
With the jury seemingly still out on the weekend’s results, one can only hope that retailers will be able to rise to the occasion come December.