Updated: 25th April 2020
Christmas has always been big business for retailers. Research from Adobe shows that UK consumers are expected to shell out over £2,000 each on food, presents, and celebrating the festivities during the run-up to Christmas.
While Christmas shopping in itself may not be new, the way in which Britain conducts its yuletide purchases has changed enormously over recent years. The advent of online shopping has shifted where we shop, while the recent introduction of Black Friday has changed when we shop, bringing forward the start of Christmas preparations for many.
What is Black Friday?
Heralding the start of the Christmas shopping season across the pond, Black Friday occurs the day after Thanksgiving and is characterised by retailers offering massive discounts across their stores. With many employees being given the day off work as part of their Thanksgiving break, Black Friday can in many ways be seen as the US version of our traditional Boxing Day sales.
Heavy footfall in stores resulting in a spike in takings, led to this becoming the first day of the year when many retailers were able to turn a profit for the year as their finances finally tipped back ‘into the black.’
While established in the US for many years, it wasn’t until 2014 that Black Friday fever swept the UK, resulting in now famous scenes of shoppers frantically racing towards discounted television sets and other cut price electronics in the aisles of Britain’s supermarkets.
While the initial excitement around this American import has tempered in recent years, consumer appetite for the annual event still abounds with 37% of UK shoppers setting aside £200-£300 which they have earmarked specifically for Black Friday purchases.
While it may be true that the build up to Black Friday now induces less in the way of frenzied excitement, there is an argument that this has been replaced with quiet expectation. Consumers now look forward to Black Friday in the same way they look forward to the Boxing Day and January sales, safe in the knowledge that this is now an established annual event guaranteed to happen and guaranteed to bring some tempting discounts.
The popularity of Black Friday
As a firm fixture in the festive calendar, Black Friday represents one of the biggest revenue-generating retail events of the year, responsible for sales in excess of £1.49bn in 2018, up 7.3% on last year. Originally an event for bricks and mortar stores, Black Friday has expanded beyond traditional high street retailers, with supermarkets, online only companies, and even service providers piggybacking on the popularity of the event all keen to take a slice of Black Friday spending. In fact it is estimated that three quarters of retailers will participate in some form of promotional activity during Black Friday.
Black Friday 2019
This year Black Friday falls on the final Friday and final working day of the month, meaning it is likely to coincide with payday for many consumers; retailers will be looking to tempt as much of this money as possible from workers’ paycheques.
Although the timing of this year’s event may be a boon to retailers, in reality, Black Friday is more than just a one day event. Deals are often spread throughout the week, starting on the Monday before Black Friday, and continuing throughout the weekend cumulating in Cyber Monday. It is not uncommon for retailers to start promoting their Black Friday offers as early as the start of November.