Boom or Bust: Charged’s definitive guide to Black Friday 2019
Black Friday (BF) fatigue is officially starting to set in, both for shoppers trying to keep track of all the deals and for journalists like us trying to keep track of all the shoppers.
Every year more retailers take part, leading to more deals, leading to more people to take part and spend more, add infinitum.
However, this year is a little different. While many trusted analysts have predicted (just like every year since BF started in the UK in 2010) that this year will be the biggest ever, many are beginning to warn that the event has reached its peak, and could soon be as redundant as the tech you bought during last year’s event.
So which is it, Boom or Bust? To shed a little light Charged has collated all the predictions from the top echelons of industry analytics, and we’ll be sure to keep updated as they come in.
The New West End Company (NWEC)
According to the NWEC, which represents 600 retailers across the country’s busiest shopping district, sales are set to grow nine per cent year-on-year to £164 million over the BF weekend.
Despite predicting a growth in sales, the NWEC also predicts that the “multi-year trend of declining footfall” will continue, with sales growth driven largely by international tourists capitalising on the weak pound, down 4.5 per cent this year.
Though its predictions only cover London’s West End, this is largely seen as a bellwether for performance country wide.
Springboard supported NWEC’s prediction of declining footfall, expecting a 4.5 per cent drop in footfall across all retail outlets, and a 5.5 per cent drop across UK high streets over BF weekend.
It cited the prevalence of discounting throughout a very tough year for retail, “combined with the scepticism surrounding whether BF discounts are better than those being offered generally”.
This was also compounded by a 2.4 per cent drop in footfall between May and October this year, double the drop over the same period a year prior.
Despite many shoppers moving online, Springboard recognised that “even spending online is likely to be muted”.
While GlobalData states that BF sales continue to outperform the overall quarter as shoppers both delay and bring forward their spending to capitalise on BF deals, it warns that the event’s “influence is waning”.
Sales growth is expected to be just 2.2 per cent this year to £4.3 billion, down fairly significantly from 3.5 per cent growth a year earlier.
It added that a “lack of newness” in the consumer technology market, which makes up over 30 per cent of BF spend, will also mean growth in the sector will be limited to 1.7 per cent.
Perhaps the most damning predicting came from IMRG, which forecast growth of just two to three per cent in online BF sales, the lowest forecast it has ever given.
“Given the myriad problems retail is currently experiencing, there seems a very real possibility that sales could well be flat or even negative”, it said.
This follows a sharp reduction in its overall predictions for the year. At the start of 2019 IMRG predicted online retail sales would grow nine per cent for the full year, but after nine months this predicted growth was nearly halved to just 4.9 per cent.
“In short, it’s difficult at this point to see how the peak trading period is going to be anything other than weak from a revenue perspective, and may potentially even be completely flat”.
Though Kantar is yet to issue any sales predictions, it estimates that 60 per cent of people are expected to participate in BF this year, up from 57 per cent in 2018.
Despite one-in-three shoppers stating they were interested in buying on Amazon this year, only five per cent of people are predicted to actually make a purchase.
Cyber Monday is also expected to play a more dominant role this year, Kantar says, with electronics, apparel, home and toys remaining the most popular categories.
In the US, which acts as a fairly reliable indicator to UK BF sales, Adobe predicts that online sales are due to grow 14.1 per cent to $143.7 billion this year.
Supporting Kantar’s predictions, Adobe also believes Cyber Monday will set a new record as the largest and fastest growing online shopping day of the year, seeing sales rise 18.9 per cent to $9.4 billion.
This will largely be driven by a rise in smartphone spend, set to be $14 billion more than last year accounting for 36 per cent of overall sales.
Centre for Retail Research
The UK will spend 29 per cent more on BF than any country in Europe, according to a report by the Centre for Retail Research for VoucherCodes.
It is expected to spend £2.53 billion on November 29, more than Italy, Spain, Belgium and The Netherlands combined and 3.4 per cent more than last year.
In one of the most optimistic predictions for this year’s event, it also expects spend across the four day weekend, including Cyber Monday, to hit £8.57 billion.
“Even with concerns over consumer confidence due to Brexit and the upcoming General Election, it looks as though enthusiasm for Black Friday is showing no sign of slowing down in the UK” it said.
Conversely research from online marketplace Gumtree suggests 58 per cent of British shoppers will refuse to take part in BF this year, with 45 per cent stating they wished to avoid unnecessary purchases.
This is expected to reduce this year’s BF spending by £805 million.
Despite the UK being the most fervent adopted of the US’ event in Europe by some margin, Gumtree says 26 per cent of respondents did not want to contribute to “mindless consumerism”.
“Interestingly, the research revealed that thinking sustainably is an equal motivator as saving money during these peak sales periods, suggesting more Britons are looking at ways to reduce their impact on the planet.”