5 reasons why this year’s Black Friday isn’t as it seems…

Today marks the culmination of weeks of advertising, promotions and hype around the busiest trading period of the year. I say period because, let’s face it, Black Friday isn’t Black Friday anymore — with the rise of eCommerce we could say that it’s extended to Cyber Monday but in reality, over the next week, nobody is expecting to pay full price, and retailers will see an exponential rise in trading for the duration. I’ve been speaking to a number of retailers about their initial thoughts on activity as sales kick off.

No official figures have yet been released, but retailers are already starting to see positive growth in trading compared to last year. But, as Black Friday extends across such a long period, it has become trickier for retailers to predict the real peak trading hours. Whereas in previous years, it could be expected that sales and web traffic would rise over a certain number of hours, this year, and this week, it will be spread over a longer period of time and so retailers are readying themselves for high traffic volumes consistently. In the past, there have been huge spikes after midnight, early in the day before work (let’s say 7am), over lunch and then again in the evening. Whilst these might be strong trading periods, it looks to me like the peaks are flattening, and there are a number of factors contributing to this.

  1. We’ve said it, we know it, we’ve seen it — Black Friday is no longer one day, which gives consumer longer to take advantage of any deals, and also longer to shop around to get the best deal.
  2. Shifts in device usage — traffic and browsing over mobile devices is only on the rise, and it’s even easier to place an order without even being near a PC. Retailers have worked extremely hard on optimising the mobile customer experience and it will be interesting to see how our research backs it up.
  3. Tech sells — initial findings suggest that tech and gaming products are proving the most popular, especially big ticket items such as PS4s and tablets.
  4. Fulfilment is key. Not only are consumers out for the best deal, but they want to get their hands on it more quickly and more flexibly than ever, and this is largely an expectation driven by options offered by retailers. I think we’ll see a big spike in both click and collect and next-day delivery requests in the next few days.
  5. Beyond online trading, we’ll be looking at how weather is impacting footfall over the trading period. Our research suggests that one of the biggest impact on footfall is precipitation. Temperature changes can also influence product choices, but if it’s dry or only slightly wet that typically doesn’t move the needle.

So, it’s a bit of a ‘watch this space’ from me. It will be interesting to see how these initial observations develop as Black five-day progresses.

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