Black Friday (U.K.) - The Story Behind The Data

So, Black Friday is past for another year and the U.K. retail sector has received a much needed boost at a time when consumer confidence is low and spending even lower.

Barclaycard in the U.K. announced that sales volumes from November 25 to December 2 were up 7.1% compared with 2018, while sales value rose by 16.5%. 

This is significant as the company processes nearly £1 of every £3 spent in the U.K. 

“Consumers have not only been buying more, but also spending more than last year,” said Barclaycard’s Rob Cameron. 

“This will no doubt come as welcome news to the retail sector.” 

But will it? 

Black Friday performance needs to be taken into account alongside trade over the preceding month and throughout the rest of the Christmas period, The Golden Quarter as it’s so often called. 

I’ve heard many stories that will likely provide little comfort for retailers of all sizes. 

Many consumers that I’ve discussed Black Friday with, have informed me that whilst they did spend more this year they did so to take advantage of discounts on Christmas presents and actually simply pulled their shopping forward by two or three weeks in exchange for the heavy discounts. 

This could mean a very barren December looms for many retailers, unless they’re willing to keep taking the margin hit and continue discounting through till the end of the year—which many look to be doing. 

This theory was backed up by a Senior Retail Executive in the fast fashion industry who informed me that when the analysed sales data for the last two Black Fridays they discovered that they didn’t actually generate any additional sales, rather they just condensed sales into a single point—causing logistical and financial challenges for the business. 

Black Friday has become embedded in U.K. consumers psyche and and with so many retailers taking part, it sadly makes it near impossible for others not to engage with the process. Yet it’s impact and the effect can only really be analysed at the end of The Golden Quarter, I for one think there needs to be more honesty from retailers and brands about the overall impact. 

Did we all just give away margin and make life more difficult for ourselves on sales we would have got anyway?

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I am the CEO and founder of Mallzee Insights - the UK's most comprehensive retail insights business, using the largest dataset of customer product opinion to help improv...